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Backup Cameras: Smart to Use or Dangerous?

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1.What are the Benefits of Backup Cameras?
Photo credit: Alex Cockroach / Flickr

Backup cameras are a controversial new feature popping up in a variety of new car models. Consumer safety groups are putting pressure on the Department of Transportation to make rear-view cameras standard in all new vehicles. However, on the other side of the debate, many people are not so sure that backup cameras will prevent accidents or injuries. Some even feel that rear-view cameras create more dangers than they solve.

What are the Benefits of Backup Cameras?

Backup cameras are designed to assist drivers with backing and parking. With a rear-view camera, you can avoid backing over the garbage can as you leave for work in the morning. If you have trouble parking, the system can give you a detailed view of what is behind the vehicle, so you can avoid hitting parked cars or other objects.

Most importantly, backup cameras are meant to lower the rate of accidents and injuries caused by a driver backing over someone. There is an average of 210 deaths and more than 15,000 injuries each year that are related to backing a vehicle. Most of these incidents involve small children between the ages of 3 and 12, often because a parent simply does not see the child in the rear-view mirror.

How Can Backup Cameras Cause Problems?

Those against the notion of rear-view cameras have several theories as to how these systems can cause more problems than they solve. Their reasoning ranges from driver distraction to putting too much reliance on this safety system. Here are some of the reasons why opponents of rear-view cameras believe this technology could have a negative effect on drivers.

Backup Cameras Encourage Distracted Driving

Rear-view cameras can cause distracted driving in a variety of ways. Owners of camera systems that have tiny displays sometimes find that they take their attention from driving to squint and scrutinize the small picture. Cars and camera models with large screens present the opposite effect – the large cinematic display can lure the driver’s eyes away from the road.

Complex Controls

Some camera systems either don’t switch on automatically when backing, or they have loads of features and settings that take the driver’s focus away from the road. Many newer systems come with “automatic system switching” to help mitigate this problem. With this feature, the system comes on automatically when the vehicle is shifted into reverse.

If It’s Not on the Camera, It Must Not Exist

Some experts fear that owners of vehicles with backup cameras could become overly dependent on the technology. A rear-view camera gives the driver a larger field of vision than the rear-view mirror, but it does not show absolutely everything that is behind the vehicle.

The bottom line is that rear-view cameras can help to save lives and prevent injuries or property damage. However, in order for these systems to be effective, they must be used responsibly. Before turning the rear-view camera on or adjusting settings, bring the vehicle to a full stop. Make sure to turn the camera off again as you get underway, so that you aren’t tempted to watch it. Most importantly, trust your instincts because the rear-view camera may not show you the entire picture.

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