Backup camera

Backup cameras cut accidents more than sensors

To prevent a parking-lot or driveway tragedy, it’s better to see rather than hear the danger. That’s the upshot of an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study that compared the effectiveness of backup cameras versus sensors in preventing “backover” accidents, which claim an estimated 292 lives and injure 18,000 people (mostly young children and the elderly) each year.

In fact, cameras work better by themselves than when combined with a backup sensor. Researchers speculate that the sensors may start beeping too soon (so drivers tune them out) or give a false sense of security (so drivers pay less attention to the camera display).

The study cautioned that while backup cameras reduce the “blind” zone behind a vehicle by about 90%, they don’t prevent all collisions. When test objects were in the shade, drivers often failed to see them on the screen. That suggests cameras’ usefulness may be limited in low-light and stormy conditions.

Your next new car likely will be equipped with a backup camera, thanks to a new ruling from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Beginning in May 2018, new cars under 10,000 pounds must provide a rear view of the 10-foot by 20-foot zone directly behind the vehicle.