If you are in the market for a new car or have recently been car shopping, you may have been given the opportunity to include a backup camera in your car’s navigation system. Many new cars now offer this feature as an upgrade or an add-on to the base model but by May 1, 2018 back-up cameras will be required in all vehicles sold in the United States.
Last month (March 2014) the National Highway Safety Transportation Agency (NHTSA) announced a new rule, requiring all new cars built after May 1, 2018 to have built in back-up cameras. The NHTSA reasoned that an average of 210 people die each year from back-up related accidents and another 15,000 people are injured. The deaths in these types of accidents are particularly distressing because children under 5 years old make up over 30 percent of the deaths that occur.
In its report, the NHTSA determined that 58 to 69 lives would be saved each year after the rule is fully implemented. While the report didn’t provide a project number for the injuries that will be avoided, it is safe to assume that the 15,000 annual injuries will be reduced dramatically.
The Cost of Back-up Cameras
One surprising fact that came to light after this issue was addressed is the surprisingly low cost of equipping cars with these back-up cameras. The NHTSA reported that for cars without adequate screens, installing the camera and screen would cost between $132 and $142 per vehicle. For vehicles with screens already in place, the modifications would only cost $43 to $45 per vehicle. We found this particularly interesting because back-up cameras are currently a differentiating factor for luxury vehicles. Knowing that back-up cameras are so inexpensive to provide, really changes the notion that the cameras should be considered luxury items.
Safety Without a Back-up Camera
While we are waiting for the new requirements to be implemented, we encourage you to do everything you can to improve your driving skills for your own safety and the safety of those around you.
What can you do?
- Eliminate distractions before you get on the road. Distracted driving lead to almost 95,000 crashes in Texas in 2013 and distractions can include:
- Directions: Identify your destination and program it into your GPS or write down your route before you start driving.
- Food: Eat before you get on the road, eating and driving takes one hand off of the wheel and will negatively affect your reaction time if you need to quickly maneuver to avoid a road hazard or person.
- Cell phones: Calling, texting and checking emails should never be done from the driver’s seat of a moving car. It is just too dangerous and anything we’ve got to say can wait until we’ve reached our destination.
- Secure your possessions. You should make sure any items you are transporting are properly secured within or on top of your vehicle. Improperly secured items can cause serious accidents if they become dislodged and land on the road.
- Secure your passengers. Every passenger in your vehicle should wear a safety restraint or should be buckled into a child safety seat.
- Check your surroundings. Carefully check your surroundings before backing out of a spot. Back-up accidents often happen in busy parking lots and making sure the way is safe by checking your rear-view mirrors and looking behind you can prevent many of the kinds of accidents this law is hoping to eliminate.