Drivers backing up cars, vans, and trucks cannot see anything immediately behind their vehicle. Each year, this problem accounts for an estimated 300 backover fatalities and 18,000 backover injuries. Tragically, many of these accidents involve small children. In 2008, Congress approved a law to establish rear visibility standards, possibly requiring rearview or backup cameras in all cars, but the legislation was put on hold in March, in order to “ensure the most protective and efficient rule possible.”
Cameras placed at the rear of the car have been found to be the most effective way to alert drivers of people in their back-up path. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation issued a report in 2006 entitled “Vehicle Backover Avoidance Technology Study.” The report concluded from its testing that ultrasonic and radar sensor technology is ineffective for this purpose and that vision-based cameras had the greatest potential for success because “the rearview camera systems typically provided drivers with the ability to see pedestrians in the majority of the rear blind zone areas.”
Blind zones become larger as car size increases; for instance, the driver of a Cadillac Escalade has a blind zone ranging from 30 to 100 feet behind the vehicle. Many newer vehicle models do include rearview cameras to address this issue, such as this one: the BMW X3 xDrive 35i backup camera.
Kasalis believes that there is indeed great potential in rearview video systems to prevent backover accidents. In the hope that Congress revisits this legislation sometime in 2012, and rearview cameras become standard, we look forward to working with automotive cameras a great deal in the near future.