Back-up cameras are now standard in many new vehicles, but the statistics show that this tool is not as effective in cutting down on accidents as many people believe. According to data about car accidents collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there has not been a significant impact on accidents since the introduction of these cameras.
Despite this new technology, the question still remains: How can we prevent drivers from backing into people?
What do the statistics say about back-up cameras?
Back-up cameras reduce blind spots to the rear of the car by as much as 90 percent, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
As the Washington Post reported, only three models of vehicles offered standard back-up cameras in 2003. In 2016, however, there are only 20 of the available 362 models without the cameras as standard equipment. NHTSA shows that their use doubled from 32 percent in 2008 to 68 percent in 2011.
At the same time, however, the NHTSA statistics for injuries fell only about eight percent. There were around 13,000 annual injuries in this type of accident in 2008, and 12,000 in 2011. An average of 232 pedestrians and other non-occupants died each year during this period in crashes caused by a driver backing up.
What is causing these accidents?
Even though technology now makes it possible for drivers to get a clear view of anyone passing behind their car, drivers still fail to look carefully when backing up. Distractions play a large role in this.
Perhaps most shockingly, back-up cameras can actually be one of the biggest distractions. Because they require drivers to look only at the display screen in front of them, many drivers fail to check their mirrors or turn to look behind them. The result is often an accident with a person or object outside of the view of the cameras, or in the view of the cameras but simply overlooked by the driver.
How can you protect yourself?
No matter whether you are a pedestrian or the driver, there are a number of things you can do to prevent this type of accident. These include:
- Always turn to look when backing up, check your mirrors, and watch the backup camera
- Never put your vehicle in reverse until you can give backing up your full attention
- Know the location of all nearby children when backing up
- Pay careful attention when crossing behind any car
- Do not assume the driver saw you; always wait until you are sure the driver is stopped
- Stop and allow the driver to back up before crossing behind him
Two years ago, the NHTSA announced a mandate to put backup cameras in all new passenger vehicles sold in the United States by 2018. As this date quickly approaches, it is also obvious that this mandate alone will not eliminate all backup crashes. Instead, drivers and pedestrians must work together to focus their attention on reducing these incidents.
For more information on staying safe on Pennsylvania roads, check out our blog.