Do backup cameras put pedestrians at risk?

Backup cameras now come standard on every new vehicle sold in the U.S. These cameras capture footage from behind the vehicle and send it to a screen the driver can use to assist with reversing. While backup cameras undoubtedly save lives and protect pedestrians from serious injury, they are not perfect.

Recently, Ford Motor Company made headlines when it recalled more than 600,000 vehicles due to defective backup cameras. Until owners schedule repairs, Ford advises them not to use the cameras on their vehicles and instead to check their mirrors and blind spots. This suggestion highlights the limitations of backup cameras.

Not a complete picture

No backup camera captures a complete picture of the area behind a vehicle. In fact, most cameras only have about an 80-degree visual field. This means drivers may not see potential dangers when using their backup cameras exclusively.

A distorted or obscured view

The camera lens mounts on the rear of the vehicle. Unfortunately, on most cars, trucks and SUVs, the camera lens has little protection from dirt, grime and the elements. A dirty or cracked camera lens may distort or obscure the driver’s view.

A bit of overconfidence

Vehicles have come a long way in recent decades, with some cars nowadays virtually driving themselves. While technology generally improves the safety of cars, it simply cannot take the place of the human brain.

If drivers rely too heavily on their backup cameras, a backover accident or collision may be imminent. Ultimately, the backup camera should supplement and not take the place of reversing the old-fashioned way.

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