Backup cameras, or rearview cameras as they are also known, are becoming standard equipment on newer car models. One reason for this is that their price, which has dropped significantly in the last decade. The other is that they provide a very important safety feature. This is the reason why a new federal law has mandated that all new passenger cars, trucks, vans and other vehicles weighing less than 10,000 pounds must have a rearview monitoring device installed. That means that from 2018, it will be impossible to buy a new car in the United States without a backup camera. Let’s see why are they so important.
Until backup cameras appeared, the primary method of observing what is happening behind a vehicle was a rearview mirror. As simple as they are, they do have some serious drawbacks. Their main deficiency is that they have a lot of blind angles, making it impossible to see what lies directly behind the car, and their narrow-angle of view.
Some would say these are trivial concerns, but, according to the latest statistics, they cause 210 deaths and over 15,000 injuries every year. To make matters worse, a disproportionate percentage of victims (31%) are children under the age of five. Keep in mind that these are only the cases involving backing up accidents caused by light vehicles. Accidents involving bikes, or other actors, aren’t included in these numbers. If they were, the number would be significantly higher. A lot of these accidents can be avoided by adding a backup camera to your car.
Advantages of Backup Cameras
Obviously, the most important advantage backup cameras offer is a clear view of the space behind the vehicle, drastically reducing the chances of an accident. This enlarged field of vision covers all blind spots, revealing all hidden obstacles. But as important as this is, it isn’t the only benefit of backup cameras.
They can help you with parking in those tight spots where you have to go in backward. Almost all backup camera systems have a warning tone feature, alerting the driver when there is a possibility of a collision. So even if you manage to miss something on a monitor, the system will detect it and warn you about it.
Many backup cameras have on-screen guidelines, helping you keep your vehicle parallel. The guidelines are usually two lines, parallel with the car and provide you with a handy way of staying centered. Another nifty feature is that, in addition to a warning tone, lines also change color (from green to yellow to red) when you approach an obstacle, giving you another layer of warning.
Finally, having a backup camera on while towing a trailer can be a life-changing experience. Not only can you keep an eye on the trailer, but those guidelines will help you keep it centered.
Are Backup Cameras Infallible?
In short, no. Just like every other piece of technology, they have limitations. Those can be simple ones, like a dirty camera lens, to fairly complex ones, like the inability to pair the camera and the monitor. The first one is easily remedied in seconds, by wiping the lens, the other may take a seasoned installer a whole day to fix. Even when they are working flawlessly, it is good to remember a few things about them, like this note from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: “Rearview video systems are not a replacement for mirrors or turning around to look; rather, they’re an added safety tool for revealing hidden dangers.”
Also, another worrying fact is that although the number of backup cameras in vehicles has doubled, the cases of injuries were reduced by just 8%. The inconsistency was explained by a study performed by the University of Massachusetts, which found that only 205 of all drivers pay attention to the monitor of their backup camera. And, needless to say, even the best safety system is useless when you don’t use it. Fortunately, all new built-in systems come with an audio warning reminding you to look at the monitor, so hopefully, the number of accidents will be reduced significantly.
Wireless Backup Camera Systems
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The latest fad in backup cameras is wireless systems. You could check here for some of the latest models on the market. Compared to the wired version, they have several distinct advantages. First of all, they are far easier to install. There is no need to snake 15 feet of cable through your entire car and trying to hide behind your dash. Just install the camera, put a monitor into place, and that’s it. It literally takes minutes and you don’t have to have a degree in engineering to do it. Wireless cameras also tend to be cheaper than wired ones.
Many people give up on installing a backup camera because their dash just can’t support a monitor needed for operation. Some cars don’t have enough space to install it. Wireless backup cameras can solve that problem as well. Some models can be connected directly to your smartphone, eliminating the need for additional monitors altogether. Of course, you will have to be ready to sacrifice some quality for this convenience, but if it is your only option, then you have no choice. Even a somewhat grainy image is better than no image at all. Finally, one thing many users complained about is the connection. Apparently, it can drop suddenly, leaving you in a lurch. Imagine starting a complicated maneuver and your backup camera cuts off. Usually, it isn’t a big deal to restart it and connection will appear automatically, but it can be annoying, especially if you are in a hurry.
Hopefully, we have helped you make an informed decision about what kind of backup camera you need, or at least point you in the right direction. Backup cameras are cheap, easy to install, and very helpful in the everyday drive. There is simply no reason not to have one in your vehicle.