A few months ago, the federal government of the United States – the same federal government who recently forced us all to use energy efficient lightbulbs – announced that backup cameras will soon be mandatory on all new cars.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that’s right: the era of the backup camera has arrived. In just a few short model years, you will not be able to buy an automobile in the United States without a backup camera. Everything will have one: Sedans. SUVs. Trucks. Minivans. Even BMW will begrudgingly install standard backup cameras, though doing so may involve removing other standard equipment, such as seats.

So with today’s column, I’ve decided to ask you, the reader, exactly how you feel about the spread of backup cameras in the United States.

Personally, I love it. I think it’s great. I say this because I drive a rather large vehicle, and I am constantly parallel parking it, and what I’ve noticed is that backup cameras ensure that I always a) see the car behind me, and b) have absolutely no idea how close I am to it.

Yes, my backup camera is kind of crappy. What I mean by this is, during the day, you can see approximately 80 percent of what’s behind you, except there are no lines to judge anything by, so you have no idea if you’re parked on the hood of the vehicle behind you, or if you’re four feet away from it. And then at night, it’s even worse: the backup camera is so poorly lit that it looks like the entire thing is filming the center of a trash bag.

So essentially, what I have learned, after two years of owning this vehicle, is that the backup camera is approximately as trustworthy as a James Bond villain who has a scary private island and a gigantic weapon that can destroy Connecticut with the push of a big red button.

But not all backup cameras are this bad. On the contrary, I’ve driven many modern vehicles with state-of-the-art backup cameras, and what I’ve noticed is that they are getting better and better and better with every passing model year. They have lines that tell you what direction you’re going. They have little green, yellow, and red symbols to show you how far away from everything you are. And the backup camera that hooks to Chrysler’s Uconnect system is so large that it looks like your entire reversing process is being broadcast on the jumbotron at a Lakers game.

So the whole backup camera thing has developed very well, which is why I’m kind of excited about it.

But there are some flaws to the backup camera. Cost is one. When the federal government mandates these things go on vehicles, it does not mandate that the vehicle prices stay the same. So the automakers take full advantage of this by installing a “standard” backup camera, and then jacking up the price of each vehicle by $1,100, even though it costs them the same amount of money to make a backup camera as it does for you and I to buy a Sharpie six-pack at Office Depot.

The same thing happened when airbags were mandated. Do you remember that? It was 1995, and you could buy a new Ford Aspire for like $2,100, including shipping, not including body panels. Well, here we are, 20 years and a lot of government-mandated safety features later, and now the cheapest Ford is like $12,000. I personally blame the government for this, because I think if it weren’t for annoying unnecessary “extras” like stability control, and ABS, and traction control, and seat belts, we could probably have a Fiesta for like eight grand. And we wouldn’t even need a Fiesta ST, because the new seat belt-less Fiesta would be so damn lightweight.

The other issue with the backup camera is complexity. Namely, the camera so eagerly mandated by the government; the one that works so well right now; the one that lets you see the world, will fail in approximately seven years, leaving you to question whether you should fix it or just look over your shoulder like your ancestors in years past. If you don’t fix it, this will come up at trial when you back over someone’s beloved pet zebra.

“He had a backup camera in his car,” people will say. “But it broke and he DIDN’T FIX IT!” And then the newspapers will call you zebrakiller, and you’ll have to resign in disgrace and walk out of the courtroom with your jacket over your head.

So we can see there are benefits and drawbacks to backup cameras, but I personally am all for it, because I have no other choice. What about you?

Yes, for all the fools that already cannot back up and the auto makers making more and more periscope designed cars. Yes back up cameras are needed. Camaro, Q50, and MB GLA are all examples of crap designed cars that are made to “look ” good to only sink the driver into a tank like feeling and need for a periscope. Those cars and many others are hard enough to see out the front let alone try and see out the back.

Even though my Accord has excellent visibility as compared to the aforementioned vehicles, it’s still good to have the bumper-level view to assist in backing, since the trunk is higher.

No. Mandate good visibility out the windows. Once backup cameras are mandated, rear windows will disappear.

Done deal anyway. I despair of ever seeing low beltlines and tall glass reappear. Whether “safety” or styling, the forces of Stupid have triumphed and they never let go of a conquest.

But honestly, I think if you wanna mandate backup cams, you should also mandate Backup/forward SOUND SENSORS (ultrasonic beeps).

I agree the beepers are effective since they tell you the distance to what is ever behind you. I’ve got them in a couple of our cars and can’t see buying a modern car w/o them.

“Yes, for all the fools that already cannot back up and the auto makers making more and more periscope designed cars.”

The problem with backup cameras is that people rely on them for their primary view. Windows and mirrors should be primary. Cameras should be secondary.

There are more backup collisions with vehicles with backup cameras than vehicles without backup cameras. Again, this is because people who have backup cameras are failing to use windows and mirrors.

Vehicles with backup beepers only tend to have a much lower rate of backup collisions. This is because the beepers supplement windows and mirrors, rather than replace them.

If the average cellphone can contain a 8 megapixel camera, I cannot understand why a car or ute does not have them for safety reasons and recording traffic incidents

A great idea even with the added cost. Love the one on the 2015 Camry I’m renting. However I believe the Feds should also mandate a minimum visibility standard as well. The pillars in some of SUV’s and CUV’s are getting absurdly thick.

Years ago, a good friend backed out of his driveway and ran over his son. Unfortunately the boy didn’t survive.

As for cost, well it’s worth it. Plus carmakers are falling over themselves in competition so the market will take care of this.

I noticed when renting an unfortunately poor handling Camry Sport last summer that Toyota cheaped out and didn’t license the line tech from Panasonic I believe.

Both my Jetta SportWagen and my Golf SportWagen have had the lines, but on our Sonata, they’re nice enough to make the lines bend with the steering angle so that you can see your trajectory.

All new Hondas now have cams standard. Even the single-view version does the job of showing the bumper-level view.

Very sad, and not uncommon. Kids aren’t predictable, car/suv/truck visibility isn’t getting any better. Rear cross-traffic radar exists for vehicles, didn’t see one for bicycles/pedestrians/moose/etc. IIRC the cost of rear cameras per life saved isn’t cheap – six or seven figures?

The minivan previously had a cheap RF rearview camera that would pick up security (hah!) camera transmissions. Now waiting for the bugs to be ironed out of AirPlay head units before getting an in-dash unit.

The backup sensors on my car (they work independently of the camera) do detect & alert to pedestrians. I like the feature and will certainly opt for it on future purchases.

Only ~300 people/year in the US die from being backed over. Backup cameras won’t save all of them, so the lives saved is quite low. Per NHTSA’s numbers, the cost per life saved is ~$18 million.

I’m all for saving the children, but I think there are better ways to save more people with that money.

Only 300 dead? What about injuries? Property damage? Cats? There’s more here than a simple body count.

I’m willing to pay for these things, if the vehicle has poor rear visibility, so I’m not personally affected a mandate, except that it may reduce price due to scale factors.

Good point. My wife’s Passat took a good hit from her friend’s husband’s brand new F150 a couple years back because he backed out of his garage and right into the cut out where it was parked. The camera was on and the parking sensors were going off, but between a combination of not paying attention and not know what all his new truck’s bells and whistles did, he did some major damage to the trunk and rear bumper area.

It is more about the person behind the car then driving the car. Those seat belts are also about personal responsibility ? I have to say working in a trauma unit for many years has proven to me that most people that whine about personal responsibility are usually the ones that have “Big Government” paying the hospital bills. Meaning, not wearing a seat belt saves the tax payer a lot of money for not paying for those hospital bills simply because the moron did not want wear a seat belt. And those same morons whining about personal responsibility are the ones that don’t carry health insurance.

VW16v, your observation seems to only be of the people who end up in the trauma unit, which is hardly a broad enough sample to make generalizations. For myself, the people I know who take “personal responsibility” buy ample insurance, pay off their debts, have plenty in savings, and don’t count on (much less trust) the govt, and frankly, don’t do the same type of stuff that sends others to the trauma center. But my sample size is likely equally skewed.

Comparing backing up accidents to seat belts is weak. First, consider the rate of occurrence. How many people are involved in car accidents where seat belts make a difference, versus how many people are backed over. The difference is a couple orders of magnitude. More people die from falling out of bed than by being backed over, but we’d all think it’s ridiculous for govt to mandate guardrails for beds. Second, seat belts protect people from things they can’t control, but most backup deaths occur because someone didn’t look or didn’t check what was behind their car–not a case of their kid dashing uncontrolled on their bike into the path of the car. Third, how do they compare for effectiveness? Even with backup cameras, people still back into things because they don’t pay attention or don’t react properly. So long as they are worn, seat belts provide provide protection. Thus, I tend to believe that data will show that seat belts successfully do their job more often than cameras.

redav &VW16v – there is the injury/fatality aspect of backing up accidents but then there is the property damage aspect. When I used to work as a paramedic the vast majority of accidents occurred during backing up. It got to the point where the BC Ambulance service made it mandatory that one needed to have their partner or someone else act as a spotter during back up maneuvers and any accident without a spotter resulted in disciplinary action.

Putting in a camera won’t make people look at it, just like even with police enforcement you can’t *make* people wear a seat belt.

Personal responsibility remains the core of all safety, period, forever. Nobody can do a better job of keeping you and your actions safe than *you*.

(I won’t buy a new car without one of a camera or excellent rear visibility, and frankly the only reason I accepted no camera in my XC70 was that it was a great price along with excellent rear visibility … and easy to put in the factory camera later.

“Saving people from themselves” sounds nice, until you realize what it costs – and I don’t just mean money.

I will make the chagrined admission that I once had a backup camera installed in my car, then backed into something while failing to look at the screen.

Having established my doofus credentials, I will go on to say that the decline and fall of outward visibility is not strictly stylists’ fault. There’s a specific chain reaction of events that’s resulted in the homogenized appearance of today’s cars: SUV’s begat tall-sided cars that could survive a T-bone crash with them, pedestrian crash safety standards begat tall blunt noses, and the aerodynamics needed to raise gas mileage begat quasi-fastback rear windows.

All of this contributes to the fact that a Ford Fusion looks just like a Toyota Avalon looks just like a Hyundai Genesis looks just like a Chrysler 200. And it all contributes to why the sides and back of the car won’t let us see out.

Looking at this from another angle — it’s also about a minimum assumed level of competency when operating in a public environment. I don’t want your heirs coming after me when you die in a fender bender because you didn’t buckle up.

When I read that, I happened to be listening to “The Supremes” “Love Child.” It seems so quaint.

So far, there are only state inspections for mandatory safety requirements (brakes, lights, mirrors, tires, steering, exhaust systems, etc.); and not every state has a yearly inspection requirement.

When, if backup cameras become part of these inspections, they will have to have an inherent reliability to them, or drivers will complain when they have to spend 100’s to fix one (and local mechanics will be out of luck).

There may be a federal requirement to equip cars with these, but there will never be a 50-state requirement to keep them operative.

Backup cameras can’t replace actual situational awareness of your surroundings. Pay attention to what’s going on outside your car and you don’t need it.

I’m willing to bet that manufacturers would offer back-up cameras standard, without being mandated. It’s a nice piece of kit that the majority of consumers would pay for.

Especially since the backup cameras don’t show what’s happening at the sides of the rear of the vehicle. I can already see fools getting hit while leaving a perpendicular parking space and claiming that it ain’t their fault cause the camera showed that they were good to go.

We have BLIS and cross traffic alert for that. Hell give me cameras on every side of the car. Recording cameras.

No, we don’t ALL have that. Whoops. Seems like the government needs to step in again, doesn’t it?

Nope. The camera is another tool in the toolbox, one that shows you areas that you otherwise can’t see. Without one, you really don’t know what is going on directly behind you, close to the ground. It’s also a big help backing out of a space in a shopping center since it is at the back of the car, very useful when you are boxed in by a couple of large vehicles.

I got a new car last year that is camera equipped. One morning as I was heading out to work, I looked at the screen as I was about to back out of the garage, and there stood the family dog. My wife thought I had already left and had let her out. If I hadn’t had a camera I would have backed over her as she was directly behind the car and close to the bumper, where you can’t see if you don’t have a camera.

Like in my truck, with a canopy, when it’s full of cargo; if I didn’t have a camera I’d be completely blind for a car length behind me, at least.

(And a camera has saved a few pedestrians in rest areas from nasty surprises, as it let me not [nearly] hit them, as they crossed behind the path of a running, reverse-lights-on full size truck.

@FormerFF And your wife probably let the dog out while you were still in the garage, because she relied on the fact that you had a backup camera. At least I hope she would have foreseen and prevented the danger otherwise.

Actually you do. Backing out of a parking space is hazardous with pedestrians acting as if they had bumpers on them and cars that try to zip around the car backing up.

Even the manufacturers are covering themselves, with disclaimers on the screen to the effect of: “don’t trust this camera you’re looking at”.

multicam – the backup camera just like collision/proximity sensors or tow mirrors or 360% cameras etc. should be viewed as adjuvants enhancing “situational awareness”.

I have one on my truck and love it. It isn’t without its limitations but part of being “situation ally aware” is being able to know your vehicle’s limitations (aw well as your own).

Unfortunately most drivers have a very poor understanding of vehicle limitations combined with an overly inflated sense of personal ability.

Shaker- Ooooh, that’s not at all what I thought you were getting at! Yeah my username could be taken to mean multiple things.

Lou_BC- I think for such people you described, the backup camera wouldn’t be as effective as proximity sensors because as stated above, they give people a false sense of comfort with backing up using just the camera. I know that’s not how they’re supposed to be used but you can’t make people be attentive and responsible no matter how hard you try.

The ones I have seen all warn that you should not rely solely on the camera, so if you have to be fully aware of what is behind you in addition to the camera, what is the value added of the camera, other than either a false sense of security, or a bit less effort to see only a portion of what might be behind you?

And when the camera fails after seven years, you might be willing to take the risk of running over a zebra in a moment of carelessness, but the government, prodded by the manufacturers, will not let you. Instead, you will have to have it repaired (at another one of those “thousands of dollars for a pack of Sharpies value” OEM cameras).

It will become another example of the increased costliness of keeping an existing car on the road, thus requiring more new cars to manufactured, with negative impact on the environment.

And since you will be required to not only have a functioning backup camera, but to have one that is “correct” for that car, a la CARB inspections that don’t just test emissions, but mandate what equipment can be used, you will surely pay through the nose both for parts and for labor.

Don’t be surprised if you will also be required to show proof that the replacement cam was installed by an “approved” (read “paid an exorbitant licensing fee to the government”) installer.

And how long before you have to retrofit them to existing cars made before the law was passed? Or have to have your car crushed as being non-compliant, like a grey market imported car that can’t meet current US highway safety standards.

God forbid your bumpers are too low, or that you want to use your mirrors and your common sense to check behind your car before you get in, to prevent running over something when you back up. Nope, all pre 2017 cars, off to the junkyard. That should help the economy, if not the consumers, for a few more years, thus protecting the politicians from the appearance of an economic downturn.

Don’t worry that autonomous vehicles will ultimately kill the personal car…there could be room for both on highways. Worry that the government will price personal cars out of the hands of all but the elite, the same type of people who decry the decline of public education while sending their children to private schools.

And be prepared for a stripped new car in twenty more years, to begin at about $35,000 or up, either. After all, soon manufacturers will have to recoup CAFE penalties not only for high HP cars and trucks, but even for modest cars, as standards become so stringent that even daily drivers won’t be able to meet them.

Oh, I forgot, you have an alternative…an electric car that will only need a new battery every couple of years, and that will be able to go three hundred miles a day, provided you can charge it all night and don’t drive it when it is winter or summer, unless you are willing to settle for a range no more than half or so of that.

Personally, I just hope they keep making replacement parts for Panthers for a long time, and that I can continue to dodge idiots who make bonehead driving moves At least I have some faith that the size of my “boat” might serve as somewhat of a deterrent to the clueless on the highways.

Anyone on this site who doesn’t do all they can to protest this latest governmental over-reaching, deserves whatever they get in the future.

Wake up and protect what is left of the driving experience, before it becomes impossible to afford by all but the very wealthy. It is that, or the nannies will only become more emboldened.

I fear for the future of this country, and not so much for our enemies from outside, as from the creeping mandated decline from inside. If you don’t understand this, I’m not going to try to educate you at this late date. But if you do, you’d better wake up before you have to purchase safety alarms and bathroom monitors for your home toilet, on the premise that it will prevent needless deaths and injuries.

After all, every life is precious to our government, provided it is not going to war, and provided the government doesn’t have to pay for it. So cough up. What are you, heartless? There are lives to be saved, zebras and theoretical humans, with those expensive cameras!

Write your congressman and tell him it is too much. Or do you want to have to pay to have an autonomous system installed in your car in order to drive to work, school, church or the beach?

Think it won’t happen, left unchecked? How many of you thought twenty years ago that we would need a camera in our car, one that we aren’t supposed to depend on, in order to back our cars out our driveways?

Maybe a beeping backup device, like postal trucks, maybe. But government-mandated cameras that still require you to do everything you do today to make sure the rear of your car is clear?

And why, as the author, do you support this as a mandatory item, just because it is useful for your choice of a vehicle? Where is your sense of responsibility to your readers’ best interests?

No one said you’ll be required to have a functioning camera/monitor, on vehicles factory equipped so. It might be wise to keep it working, or risk being incredibly negligent after backing over a slow kid. 20 years in prison and whatnot?

But I look at it like the “Third Brake Light” required on all new vehicles. No one is checking to see it’s still functioning after it leaves the showroom, except maybe a dealer CPO checklist. But you’re better off maintaining it.

In NY a nonfunctional CHMSL is grounds for an inspection failure. An airbag MIL or the complete lack of an airbag is not. It is unlikely that an inoperable camera will fail you, but heaven help you if you back into something/someone/somebody’s zebra and the plaintiff’s counsel finds out about it.

@DenverMike No one is checking the third brake light EXCEPT for state vehicle inspections, thus forcing you to maintain it.

As to your argument that no one said you will be required to keep it working, consider the history of the seat belt. While I am not claiming that seat belts aren’t a good idea, in order to gain initial acceptance, they were mandated to be installed, but use was stated as being optional. Later the federal government threatened to withhold federal highway money, a big source of state revenues, for any state that did not pass a mandatory seat belt law.

This is a general pattern, and will be the pattern that will occur here. First they will just mandate that they be on new vehicles. Once there are enough of them, the federal government will threaten to withhold the highway money for states that do not require them to be inspected, and perhaps even retrofitted to older vehicles.

The person who noted that he had his wife check for the location of all children before backing out had the right idea for managing the danger, and it is the only foolproof method. And if you have no one to check, then make your children stand on the porch until you have backed out. And if they are too young to do that, what are they doing playing without an adult supervising them anyway? And before someone says “what if it is the neighbor’s children in your driveway?”, same thing, tell them to get off your driveway, or if they are too young to comprehend, demand that their parents supervise them.

All a camera is going to do is (1) provide a false sense of security, as it does not show everything that could be a problem, and (2) provide a source of revenue for dealers, mechanics and government employees. And the source of that revenue will by YOU, John Q. Taxpayer.

It may take five years, or ten years, or even twenty years, but once they are mandated to be provided, they will become a requirement in order for a vehicle to pass inspection. If you think otherwise, you are ignorant of the history of past federal methods of implementing new programs and forcing their adoption by states.

VolandoBajo – I always check around my vehicle because kids do pop up in unexpected places and leave there stuff scattered around the yard. A “head count” and go stand over there is also something I do. I also park my vehicle so I can just drive away in a forward fashion.

Unfortunately the more “safety” features we heap upon vehicles the more careless many drivers will become.

When I first got my driver’s licence my dad cut out an article from the newspaper on driver skills. It stated that roughly 1/3 of drivers were poor drivers and shouldn’t have a licence. Only 3-5% were good to excellent drivers. That means 60% of drivers are just okay.

I like backup camera’s just like I like the proximity sensors on my back bumper. Heated mirrors are awesome. The only thing I hate is the convex passenger mirror.

These devices aren’t going to turn a poor driver into a good one but for the bulk of the ‘average” drivers it might be enough to make a difference.

I do agree that government isn’t a very good judge of human behavior nor is it very good at manipulating human behavior. Bureaucrats fix bureaucracy with more bureaucracy.

I am not concerned about “slippery slope” in relation to safety adjuvants but I am when it comes to autonomous vehicles. A backup camera isn’t going to affect my freedom but being forced to have a vehicle that doesn’t follow my commands will.

@Lou_BC Right on all counts. Going to share that stat with my son, who is learning to drive. As he has a desire to excel, and is competitive, I hope and believe those stats will further reinforce his desire to be more than just an adequate driver.

I also started teaching him how to drive when he was twelve or thirteen…would explain what I was doing, why, what to watch out for. Later, I would have him act as my navigator and backup danger spotter.

Now he already has the right instincts about what to do and when. And I hate to admit it, but he probably pulled my bacon out of the fire once or twice.

“Welcome to the AV-1 fully automated autonomous vehicle. Please relax and enjoy your ride. I am fully automated. Nothing can go wrong…go wrong…go wrong…go wrong…”

“And how long before you have to retrofit them to existing cars made before the law was passed? Or have to have your car crushed as being non-compliant….”

I hate to interrupt your delightful rant but you might pause and consider whether or not this has already been done to the fleets of non-compliant cars that we still see on the roads today and then reconsider whether or not this is something that’s really on the horizon for the non-compliant cars of tomorrow.

The same halfwits that support this nanny state approach like to look to Europe for ‘leadership.’ There are any number of European governments that are banning the use of cars made under previous regulatory regimes.

@KixStart That would be the (in)famous Citroen 2-CV, which resembles the grandfather of the VW Thing, is it not?

Saw one in Florida years ago, painted a battleship grey. Looks like the factory had come upon a supply of US Navy paint left over from the Normandy Invasion.

Only they knew there would be a backlash if they just rounded up older cars and banned them from roadways, so the provided financial incentives (using our money) to pay to get perfectly serviceable cars off the road.

The net effect was that many cars that were worth less than the Clunker price were destroyed, thus depriving people who cannot afford more expensive cars opportunities to obtain affordable transportation, and also causing many more natural resources to be used in order to manufacture new cars to replace the older cars.

And before you claim that many or most of the cars that cost less than the Clunker price (I think it was $4500) aren’t road-worthy, I suggest you look at the number of Crown Vics and Grand Marquis alone that can be bought for less, and are still in good running condition. And that is after the price of remaining inexpensive cars have been driven up by reducing the supply while doing nothing to lessen the demand for such inexpensive transportation.

Will you be any less disturbed if, instead of mandating that vehicles without cameras be banned from the road, the government elected to use taxpayer money to have them turned in and destroyed in exchange for yet another new car being manufactured, as in the Cash for Clunkers program? Either way, otherwise roadworthy cars are going to end up in a crusher, and we will be paying for the government to achieve this supposedly noble “life saving improvement of the US highway fleet.”

I’m sure from your snide comment about my delightful rant that you think I am over the top thinking that the government would crush cars they deem to be non-compliant or unroadworthy, but I think you are over the top if you have been able to read for at least five years and are unaware that this has already been done to us, paid by us, for the “public good” as defined by a federal agency. And that it can, and probably will be done again.

In case you didn’t know, the bureaucrats are slapping themselves on the back about what a great success the Cash for Clunkers program was, and their measure of success was how many older cars were taken out of circulation and crushed.

But you are right about one thing. It hasn’t been done to the fleet of older cars you still see on the road today, it has been done to the older cars you no longer see on the roads as a result of our paying for the Cash for Clunkers program. But since the government feared backlash if they simply mandated the removal of all the older cars, there is the embarrassing, but largely ignored, evidence that many other cars, just like those that were crushed, are still running and passing inspections. And the evidence for this “inconvenient truth” is much more verifiable than that for other “inconvenient truths” that many people are willing to accept, based on ambiguous at best, and possibly falsified, at worst, evidence. The evidence for this is public record, if you care to look at the “success” record of the Cash for Clunkers program.

Was it mandatory? Did all the Panthers get crushed? Did people get compensation for those clunkers beyond what they could get on the street?

Let’s look at this from a different perspective… Never mind your “nanny state” conspiracy theories; what’s the situation on the ground, today, in automotive visibility?

And why? Most of your major automakers are building cars with crap rear visibility and they full well know it. Do they include backup cameras or sensors standard? Where’s the responsibility in that?

It was far too small to have an effect on the used car market. There were 690k+ vehicles traded in as part of C4C, while there were over 35 million used cars sold that year. Less than 2%.

And C4C removed dogs from the market. It provided trade-in value for stuff that would have been scrapped. This stuff should not be hard to figure out.

PCH: “C4C provided a bailout for car dealers and the states that collect sales tax on new car sales.”

This couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the fact that car dealers donate a *lot* of money to campaigns, could it?

I don’t know why some people revel in conspiracy theories and ignore the obvious cash-for-influence schemes.

C4C was an economic stimulus package. New cars are the most or second most expensive item that a typical household can be expected to buy.

If you are attempting to create a lot of consumer spending, then getting people to buy new cars is one of the more efficient ways to do it, since new car purchases involve large sums of money.

This is an exercise in plucking low-hanging fruit. Take some items that had close to zero economic value at that time (aging gas guzzlers) and convert them into a shopping coupon that produces five figures worth of spending, including a hefty sales tax payment to the locals. The types of vehicles that were targeted for trade-in would have included a demographic that may not have bought a new car at all had their junk not been assigned some value.

Some of the money spent on C4C would have been needed for the states, regardless. The alternative to C4C would have been other stimuli, not doing nothing.

While C4C did remove some dogs from the market that were best retired it removed a lot a good serviceable vehicles that had a lot of life left in them.

When it was happening and people were posting videos of killing the cars I saw many that should not have died and many that were worth as much or more as the C4C rebate depending on the vehicle that was purchased.

One that made me sick was a Ranger Supercab with something like 60K miles on it. Around here it would have been priced at $7000 minimum on a dealer’s lot and probably closer to $8000. Personally I don’t understand why the dealer didn’t say I’ll give you $5K trade in and put it out on the lot or wholesale it for a little extra profit. That is not the only case I saw of a vehicle who’s wholesale value was at or above the C4C money.

On the other hand there are vehicles like the one friend traded in a 94 Explorer with over 300,000 miles on the clock that was showing its age cosmetically.

While there are surely anecdotal examples of idiots who gave away perfectly lovely cars, the amounts of the vouchers would have barred reasonable people from throwing away good wheels at a steep discount.

There will always be some people who will trade dimes for nickels. (Car dealers love people who are like that.) You can’t blame the government for that.

SoutDude: “While C4C did remove some dogs from the market that were best retired it removed a lot a good serviceable vehicles that had a lot of life left in them.”

I would not say that C4C was the product of unalloyed genius. At the very least, it would have been better to take them out of circulation by, say, branding the titles so that the vehicles turned in could be used for parts. Maybe that’s not feasible but the program certainly led to a certain kind of waste.

I figure it’s a question of proportions. Maybe the contributions weren’t the driving force but I expect they helped. I’m not a conspiracy theorist but it’s usually a good idea to follow the money.

In this case, the money to follow is the money needed for economic stimulus. A lot of GDP was on the line.

It did increase fuel economy, but if and only if the cars destroyed had poor mpg and the recipients didn’t use the subsidy to purchase CAFE non-compliant vehicles.

Stimulate the economy. Yes it did, and economic stimulus was needed, though it was not the only way it could have been done. But it also stimulated the economy at taxpayer expense in the long run. A complex issue, Keynes and Hayek couldn’t agree, so I doubt we could either.

The fact that it was not mandatory was a plus for the program. No, not all Panthers got crushed, but many serviceable ones with at least passable mileage did, as their book value was less than the C4C price.

Compensation beyond street price? Yes, beyond what is also called fair market value. With the net effect that it reduced the supply and raised the price of cars in the under $5K segment of the used car market. Further depressed the used car market because some buyers who would have had to buy a used car instead bought a new Ford Fiesta, Toyota Corolla or other ****box, oops!, econo-box car new.

Nanny state conspiracy theories, don’t know how old you are, and I guess I have to give you a pass if you don’t remember the time when people were saying that seat belts would always be optional, and that it was a nanny state conspiracy theory to think that the federal government would mandate them. Did they mandate them after they said they would not? Yes, but indirectly. They just threatened to pull federal highway money from any state that didn’t make them mandatory.

In a space of a decade or two, they went from “this is strictly optional” to “do it or else”. Wasn’t a first for the government, won’t be the last.

Since I know you will call for another example, I’ll oblige you: motorcycle helmets. Advocated, not mandated. Later mandate state legislators to make them mandatory unless they wanted to give up that highway money. When was the last time you saw a legislature pass up a chance to get more money, from whatever source?

And I believe the 3rd brake light (CHMSL) was supposed to be optional, too, and is now an inspection failure item at least in some states, though I don’t know whether or not the federal government held the money gun to the states’ heads that time.

That was also the mechanism that was used to force states to maintain the 55mph limit for a while, after the gas crisis was over…raise it and your money goes. Eventually there was enough of a backlash that states were finally permitted to set higher limits again.

(And believe me, doing something like driving across Texas got REAL tedious at 55mph on highways that were designed for at leasat 85mph, safely.)

This is not black helicopter or chem trail conspiracy theory stuff, this is historical fact (although both black helicopters and chem trails are also a fact…it is just their interpretation that is unclear).

If you think the federal government will not manipulate people in order to introduce unpopular measures as voluntary, and later manipulate them into being mandatory, you are only demonstrating your lack of experience, your youth, or your obliviousness to the real world around you.

VB: “motorcycle helmets. Advocated, not mandated. Later mandate state legislators to make them mandatory unless they wanted to give up that highway money. When was the last time you saw a legislature pass up a chance to get more money, from whatever source?”

We don’t require helmets. Either there’s no mandate or the last time I saw a legislature pass up a chance to get more money was the last time our legislature was in session.

VB: “This is not black helicopter or chem trail conspiracy theory stuff, this is historical fact (although both black helicopters and chem trails are also a fact…it is just their interpretation that is unclear).”

Well, at least one of your historical facts is not a fact (I’ll leave it to you to figure out which way it’s unfactual, as I don’t care all that much) but, in addition, if you’re focuses on “black helicopters and chem trails,” then it’s pretty clear how you interpret them, which is goofy conspiracy interpretation.

There’s a tendency among some – and I see the symptoms in you – to believe that every aspect of government comes from some control freak or other dark impetus and expresses itself in damping down your rights in such a way as to make your life unliveable.

Now, I don’t happen to think that. First off, I notice, that unless the police happen to take a liking to me (justified or not) for some crime or ill behavior (like being black after dark), I’m going to go through my life pretty much unmolested by the government. I can do most of the things I want to do and the restrictions around my activities either have to do with:

– taxation, after all somebody has to pay to run the country and it might as well be people with some means. Since we’re not going to get serious about taxing people with serious means, then that’s me and people like me. – rules and regulations that exist because the things I do have effects on others. Sure, could do 145mpg on I-94 but that would be irresponsible. I might be good enough to get away with it, mostly, but it’s a risk that I should not expect other people to accept.

Most people in the legislature, judicial, executive branches, they’re seeing problems and looking for solutions. Their first inclination isn’t to control you but to keep you from adversely affecting others.

@KixStart, the vehicles that were killed by C4C went to the wrecking yards and the parts could be and were sold, of course the engine was worthless though some engine parts certainly could have been used and it was certainly legal to sell them. They also were branded to prevent them from returning to road use by dropping in a different engine.

The Jeep guys loved it because the 1st gen Explorer was the #1 vehicle turned in. Many of those Explorers came with the 3.73 gear ratio and a limited slip. They are the preferred upgrade for a number of Jeeps because the 8.8″ Ford is way stronger and it comes with disc brakes and has the same bolt pattern.

Now the volume of cars going to the wrecking yards meant that yards often didn’t let them stay in the yard as long as the typically would. That means that many of the parts went to the crusher with more parts than they would have normally.

@KixStart Didn’t you know that Al Gore INVENTED the Internet? He said so himself, in public, on the record.

And black helicopters have been observed and recorded numerous times. That doesn’t mean I neceasarily have a conspiracy viewpoint. There might be a particularly good reason why for example our military might be flying unmarked helicopters carrying classified equipment in training for a classified national defense mission.

And there are numerous examples of what are called chemtrails that have been videoed, and they are emphatically not the same thing as contrails. The differences are enormous and obvious.

Yet again, although there might be some dark conspiracy going on, it is also possible that they represent, for example, the silent immunization of broad segments of the public against some form of germ warfare that the government doesn’t want the public to know about, so as not to panic us. If they were doing that to save our lives from, for example, Chinese germ warfare, or a particularly lethal form of Asian flu, and didn’t tell us, I can’t say I’d blame them.

Or it could have to do with some form of protection of soil against biochem attacks. Again, perhaps classified, but not necessarily nefarious. Or perhaps an antidote to Fukushima radiation…we may never know, but I don’t believe that government secret operations automatically mean conspiracy.

But to pretend that they don’t exist at all and to call anyone who is aware of them a conspiracy theorist, is a bit dense and deliberately self-deceiving.

I am acutely aware that the government does many things that it doesn’t want to be general knowledge but that are being done on our behalf, for good motives. I don’t believe that all necessarily are, but there are many that certainly are.

And I know this for a fact, not just a conjecture, because I once did some decontamination work and training for a branch of the military. And no, it was not handling dripping barrels of agent orange in Nam…the people I worked with were too knowledgeable and too careful to ever allow themselves to be exposed like that.

And don’t forget one other thing: just because someone is paranoid doesn’t mean that no one is out to get them, either. Think about it, and if you don’t agree, tell me why that statement is false. Then we will get to see how open minded you are.

VB: “Didn’t you know that Al Gore INVENTED the Internet? He said so himself, in public, on the record.”

That is not what he said. He said he took the initiative to create the internet, with legislation. Which is true.

You should check around The Internet (it’s a useful thing) to see what Vint Cerf had to say about Al Gore’s contribution.

And black is a color some helicopters happen to be, especially if they’re to be used at night to, say, raid a terrorist compound. If you can come up with that many thoughts about their uses beyond “military choppers doing training,” then you’ve spent way too much time thinking about it.

Al Gore was undoubtedly an early booster of online telecommunications and provided the leadership in Congress that led to its proliferation:

Judging from the bilge that so many people post online, it was a huge mistake and it’s a shame that he did it.

PCH: “Judging from the bilge that so many people post online, it was a huge mistake and it’s a shame that he did it.”

Definitely not. We should allow the market to decide whether cars should be equipped with backup cameras or not. That way you have a choice; no one’s forcing you to buy a car without the camera and no one’s shoving it down your throat either. Most of the cars available in NA or Western Europe have it available anyway, in many cases it is even a part of standard equipment. The current state of the market shows that more and more people are buying cars with backup cameras on their own – it actually turns out that they don’t need the Big Brother to tell them to do so. And with the proliferation of infotainment modules containing big LCD screens, I expect the producers to soon start offering backup cameras as standard on most cars anyway. It’s no wonder the governments in general are so bloated and ineffective if we continuously allow them to regulate such trivial matters as the car’s equipment.

I agree (and *love* the cameras), though I should note that one reason it’s becoming standard is that it *is mandated*.

NHTSA was mulling it over for a while with near certainty of a requirement, and they made a final rule last year, with phase-in requirements.


@Sigivald Thanks for the link. The reason it was a near certainy is that this is in response to a Congressional Act passed in 2007. The study period overall was much longer.

Significant takeaways include that auditory warning systems were considered and rejected, since drivers often ignored them. There is no data collected during the study period however that shows that the same or greater percentage of drivers wouldn’t ignore visual warnings, which would render the systems useless in those cases.

Another point was that even after tilting the playing field as much as reasonably possible, they were only able to conclude that about a dozen lives would be saved each year, out of a number of deaths per year in excess of two hundred, IF the system was one hundred per cent effective as designed. Not sure why it would be that low, but it looks like what they said.

Another is that some insurance industry data, which was not directly covering the same type of accidents, but was related to backing up, showed no significant difference in Mercedes with or without backup cameras, but possibly slightly MORE backing up accidents in Mercedes WITH camera systems.

This would seem to suggest that drivers who do not properly assess their driving situation and/or ignore proper warnings, may be the chief cause of such backing deaths and injuries, and that the systems will not be able to overcome such driver carelessness or stupidity. This may explain why such a small per cent of backing deaths would be eliminated.

In spite of their best efforts to show a cost benefit in terms of things like hospitalization and disability claims vs systems costs, they could at best conclude that costs outweighed savings by about $250 per system.

The total net cost was projected to be somewhere between a quarter of a billion and 0.4 billion dollars, or something like millions of dollars for every life saved.

Still wonder why your taxes are so high and your cars are so much more expensive with the passage of time? I don’t.

Another takehome fact is that in this case, it was not a situation where an agency promulgated a new regulation independent of the legislative process. This one clearly originated in Congress.

But the one bright light in all of this, is that there is no indication that there was any intent, either on the part of Congress, or NHTSA, to apply any of this older cars.

However, there is nothing to prevent them, either, from in the future incentivizing states to make functional cameras an inspectable requirement in return for federal highway dollars.

But if they do, I would suspect that they might do as they did with seat belts and cat converters. Vehicles that were legal at the time of manufacture would not be required to be in compliance with subsequent regulations.

Still, this is a whole lot of “pork” in order to seek the noble goal of trying to prevent a dozen deaths and more injuries per year, and it is almost certain that the same things that cause people to not use auditory data will also cause them to ignore visual data. I wonder it they will then want car manufacturers to install electric driver seats that will administer a mild shock while the vehicle is in reverse, until the rear visual field is clear. Shhh! Don’t tell them. They just might like that idea.

Nothing tested driver compliance with visual data. Instead the fact that there was evidence that auditory signals were ignored was used to justify the use of cameras, as if people who ignored a loud beeping noise would somehow be more attentive to a somewhat grainy image. Their whole analysis rests on that supposition.

I am left with a mental image of Don Quijote jousting with windmills…and I still will not walk behind a parked car in a parking lot, unless there is at least a car length between me and their back bumper, cameras or no cameras.

I would like to say the following, although I know this is not a unique situation, having worked in Washington and on transportation systems and rulemaking processes at both the federal and state level.

Never before has so much been devoted to deploying so much, with so little evidence that the same human tendencies that defeated other approachs will not interfere with this process, in order to try to save so few people.

Oh, if that were only true, but it is not It is just one more link in a chain of economic servitude to our government. By the people, for the people, and of the people. We can only hope…

Right now, backup cameras are a necessity. Do I like them? Yes & no. None of our cars have them – too old, but many of my friends do have newer cars that are equipped with them and I think they are amazing in how they can guide you when backing up and such.

What I don’t like is the increased reliance on “virtual” reality and devices to do what we can’t seem or don’t want to do ourselves. Plus, this technology isn’t free, and stuff goes bad.

How about this: Making larger windows and good outward visibility – being able to see where the front and rear of your car is – MANDATORY!

Both. Cars are getting taller, notably in urban and suburban environments, and that is dangerous. Manufacturers should have a choice between a range of rear visibility or a standard camera.

What I don’t like is what mandated cameras will do to the price point of small cars that don’t need them and aren’t sold with the touchscreen necessary to accommodate them. That’s what regulators from wealthy dc suburbs have lost sight of.

Our Prius has excellent visibility, so a backup camera really isn’t a necessity. The extra $75 or so (it already has a screen) that a backup camera would add to the price is just collateral damage in our case.

However, time marches on. Screens are cheap and finding their way into smaller and cheaper cars with every new model cycle, so they’re inevitable on the cheapest cars, anyway. This regulation will merely accelerate the pace a bit.

However, your concern about arbitrarily pushing up the price of a small car is still a legitimate one. But what would you propose to do? NHTSA/DOT would have to come up with some sort of “visibility standard” that, if not met, would trigger the requirement for a backup camera. How long would that take to implement? How confusing would it be? How would they account for the difference in sightlines between a very tall and a very short person? How would the automakers game the requirements?

@KixStart NHTSA’s conservative estimate is that the cost will be over five hundred dollars per vehicle, to be partially offset by societal savings if drivers don’t ignore visual data the way they have been observed to ignore auditory data. They had no reason to inflate that estimate. Their case would have been stronger if they had reduced their estimate of cost.

Or maybe they did reduce their estimate of cost. In that case, the real world cost will be more than that.

If I were you, I’d want to hang onto that money for a replacement battery for your Prius in a year or two, instead of hoping that the same drivers who back up when a warning sound is emitted, won’t back up when a warning picture is emitted.

Think about it. Which grabs your attention more immediately in traffic when it is behind you, a loud siren or some flashing lights. Assuming the police car is not right on your bumper. So what would that say about a visual based warning system trying to do what an auditory one is failing to do?

VB: “If I were you, I’d want to hang onto that money for a replacement battery for your Prius in a year or two,”

The guy across the street is happily driving a Prius that’s 7 years older than mine. I still see first-generation Priuses from time to time. The only replacement battery my dealer has ever ordered was to replace one that was damaged in an accident.

2nd generation Prius batteries have consistently lasted 200K miles or more when the vehicle is driven on a regular basis. The dealer/mfg does not have a monopoly on batteries either, Dorman for one aftermarket source offers them. There is also the used option.

As far as the Cameras go they will not cost anywhere near $500 to implement. Aftermarket wireless ones can be had for under $100 all day every day.

There are many cars that do not have a “screen” with their backup camera they display the image in the mirror if the car does not have navigation/touch screen.

I expect a decent set up would add $25 to the cost of manufacturing the vehicle. Yes the mfg will likely use the case of mandated cameras as an excuse to up the price on low end cars.

However for comparison look at mandated stability control, that requires much more development cost than a simple camera and it required that ABS also be included along with a way to control engine output. We did not see significant price increases as mandated stability control was rolled out. The started off requiring it on 15 passenger vans, then an ever increasing percentage of each mfgs fleet had to have them.

Another better comparison would be mandated tire pressure monitoring. I bought a vehicle built when the systems were just being introduced and were direct systems. It was a $200 option and it required more hardware than a camera.

A backup camera system capable of meeting the requirement is three components: a camera, a screen, and a wire between the two.

The wire is essentially zero cost, because the automaker is already running wires to the location of the camera and the screen.

As for the other two components, I can buy them myself, at retail, for less than $50. Obviously automakers can get them for less than I can.

I don’t have much choice as to who my dealer is. There are only two Ford dealers in my area, and I have a Mercury.

And yes I recognize that dealer does not equal manufacturer. I was simply suggesting that they are both part of the same limited supplier supply chain, and exhibit similar pricing behaviors.

NHTSA tried to minimize the cost of new cameras, but estimated the cost of ones that will comply with their regulations will be in excess of $500. This is probably partly due to the ability of suppliers and manufacturers to take advantage of limited competition, and partly due to requirements that require things such as delaying backup in reverse long enough for camera systems to boot up and acquire an image, and requiring the image to be suppressed when it might be a distraction.

This will require more than a mere remote camera and dash mounted display. Not quite the proverbial $500 coffee cup, but somewhere on that spectrum.

VB: “I was simply suggesting that they are both part of the same limited supplier supply chain, and exhibit similar pricing behaviors.”

Your example was poor. They may exhibit similar pricing behavior from time to time but they operate differently and have different constraints and powers. Basically, your dealer is using your uncertainty and doubts against you. And, if you’re happy with Insty-Loob (but God help you if your dealer is actually that bad), go there. If more people do that, I think you’ll find your dealer gets religion on pricing.

VB: “NHTSA tried to minimize the cost of new cameras, but estimated the cost of ones that will comply with their regulations will be in excess of $500.”

I got a high-resolution video camera with 2X optical zoom last Christmas; it was $110 in retail quantity 1, with a small pile of accessories, SD card support, battery and other things not needed in the automotive application.

The imager and lens alone for OEMs is going to be far less. A tablet with decent screen resolution and a lot of unnecessary stuff is $125, the screen alone would be far less and most cars are going to have a screen anyway.

Here’s another thought about cost of the option. What’s a backup camera cost today? Markups on options is massive, about 85%.

So, I looked to see what a backup camera would cost on a Prius. It’s available on the Two as “Backup Camera Extra Value Option” for $0.

The cost of the cameras is obviously getting cheaper. Wait long enough, and there will come a time when the marginal cost of installing them will end up being negligible.

@tedward It is not so much that regulators from wealthy suburbs have lost sight of this fact, it is that they don’t care, because the only effect it has on them is to provide them with more programs to manage, coupled with higher pay and a better reason for their agency, and thus their positions, to continue to exist.

Gas expands to fill the space allotted to it, and government programs expand to fill the territory they can occupy…the territory that voters and taxpayers allow them to occupy.

You say I should check my sources. My source was NHTSA’s report, using estimates it and the manufacturers and suppliers came up with. And NHTSA was trying to cost justify the system so it wasn’t trying to highball the price.

Part of the expense is that the system as mandated will NOT consist of merely a camera, a display, and some wire…it will need to be engineered to prevent backup until the camera boots up at startup of the vehicle, it must be prevented from displaying when it would be a distraction instead of an enhancement, it might have its display engineered into or over another existing display panel already on board, or perhaps would need to be presented on an existing display along side other data and controls presented on the vehicle’s display.

The implementation is going to require a lot more engineering, equipment and code than just an off the shelf camera and display and a piece of wire.

What you are saying is like saying building an airplane should be cheap. All you need is a motor, a propeller, a tubular fuselage, two wings and a cockpit, and I can buy those items at an airplane junkyard for a few thousand dollars.

There is a lot more to systems design, implementation and integration than just an input device, an output device and a wire to connect them.

And the resultant system will have more cost components than just the hardware cost of those three items. You can count on that.

Manufacturers sometimes use it as an excuse to raise prices (especially with fancy guide-line software and the like), but there’s no reason the actual “just compliant, slap a camera and display on it” cost should be significant.

You can get a display and camera kit *retail* for about $100; carmaker costs would be considerably lower.

Especially since even small, cheap cars are increasingly getting an LCD display for the sound system, if nothing else*.

(* I expect that as time passes, as usual, feature trickle will mean that ACC and Nav will become *standard*, even if never mandated.

God knows neither one actually costs dirt to implement, in terms of hardware; they’re pure profit.)

#Sigivald just because there is no reason for manufacturers to charge so much doesn’t mean they won’t, especially if mandated.

If there is a screen that a driver can see while driving, what is to stop someone from wiring an aftermarket display that not only shows you a rear view, but that can also play movies while driving down the road?

Today, traffic police can prevent drivers from watching videos, because they know that if they see a screen in the front of a car, it doesn’t belong there. But with a backup camera screen, police would have to actually observe a movie being played in order to stop distracted driving.

And if you think manufacturers won’t gouge you on price, why does an oil change cost twice as much at a dealer as at a Jiffy Lube? And don’t tell me its because they have to pay skilled mechanics. It doesn’t take a skilled mechanic to change an oil filter.

VB: “And if you think manufacturers won’t gouge you on price, why does an oil change cost twice as much at a dealer as at a Jiffy Lube?”

My dealer is $2 or $3 more than Jiffy Lube and I have found that the dealer does a better job. Maybe you should find a new dealer?

VB: “And don’t tell me its because they have to pay skilled mechanics. It doesn’t take a skilled mechanic to change an oil filter.”

At my dealer, I get a skilled mechanic, unless he’s working on another job, in which case I get a trained tech. At Jiffy Lube I can guarantee you’re not getting a skilled mechanic and experience suggests you may get someone with no training at all.

@VolandoBajo Those aftermarket wiring harnesses have been available for years and years, for nearly every make of car with a nav screen.

You make good points. The issue is visibility. Since the government in all its great wisdom decided we had to have MPG numbers, auto makers have had to design these ridiculously door stop angular cars without rear windows. They forced cars to support themselves turned upon their tops so now we have these THICK pillars removing any side view. So it only makes sense the camera has to be there to allow us to see. And include warning sensors as well. I cannot tell you how many times the sensors on my MKS have saved me from killing folks. The car has poor visibility and this is a wonderful safety tool.

They should have standards for these cameras. They should perform to a set level in both day AND night…and allow for wide views. I have one in my other car that is an aftermarket and it is very narrow in its view. The MKS, on the other hand, allows for a very wide view that gives you a great view of the parking lot as cars approach.

@TrailerTrash My 97 Grand Marquis gives me 360 degree visibility of everything that is at least thirty inches above the ground. And I always perform a visual inspection of what is behind my car on near the ground (curbs, bushes, small animals or children) before I get into my car.

I have a 21 year old son, and while he was growing up, there was never a time that I backed out of my driveway without knowing exactly where he was.

And on top of that, whenever I can, I back into a parking place, rather than nose in to it, as I can observe where I am going to back into before I do so, and don’t have to worry about anything behind me when I leave.

Your analysis of the effect of regulation on the shape and utility (or lack of utility) of modern vehicles is spot on, right down to the door stop shape. And it is precisely why I enjoy driving my supposedly “old geezer” car that is actually what a car is supposed to be. And my advice to my son has been to keep this car and maintain it after I am gone, at least for as long as it takes for manufacturers to once again make comfortable, quick and reliable cars like the one we ride around in together now.

A friend of my wife’s suggested I look at the Grand Marquis, when I was no longer able to ride comfortably in a rice crackerbox, knowing that I had once owned an 88 Thunderbird and liked it. Prior to that I didn’t pay too much attention to Panthers, but it is everything that “modern” cars are not.

I’m not opposed to government mandated demonstrably useful features, such as seat belts, third brake lights, et cetera, and the GM seems to have just the right amount of them, and is devoid of useless add on features that are only prone to failure.

I actually pity people who have to drive around in cars that have poor visibility, poor handling, and are laden with touchscreen controls with too long response times. As you note, those are the real roots of lack of safety.

I am thinking there must be some secret to the design of a car that certain manufacturers are cheating on. For instance, why are so many SUV/CUVs coming at us these days without a view, especially the side rear window, when the Subaru can give us the same solid view your oldie gives you? There must be a reason Subaru can give us a car that meets the regs yet STILL allow for decent driving !!! What gives? You would think a government so big on regulations…would regulate the view standards as well, since they are a big cause of this happening in the first place.

@TrailerTrash Perhaps the reason for an absence of view standards, which I think is a good suggestion, is because with view standards there is no product to sell and hence no profit to be made.

And I am a little bit hesitant to let the government come up with a standard that would make all automobiles look like AMC Pacers and/or Gremlins.

On the other hand, standardizing bumper heights, while it did outlaw certain older, otherwise OK designs, hasn’t seemed to have much adverse effect on automobile design.

Perhaps there could be a standard about being able to see everything X inches high, and at least Y inches away from the car, for at least say 315 out of 360 degrees. The fact that it wasn’t a full 360 degree requirement would allow for pillars for the roof. And it could apply for all drivers between perhaps five feet and six feet three inches.

I’d rather have those same idiots tell me I legally need a camera as opposed to have them dictate the shape and design of my vehicle. That in itself is a slippery slope…..

they already do tell you what shape you car has to be in from regulations on bumpers, mpg regs and hood strengths, etc.

I like the idea of cameras and have one on my car. However, the key is to understand the limitations. I worry that people use a camera as a crutch and fail to actually turn and look. I feel a camera should always be used as a complement to placing your eyes where you want to go.

Don’t let the whining and wringing of hands fool you. Backup cameras are something automakers have long dreamed of making standard equipment on cars.

And for anybody crying “nanny state!!!!111” get over yourselves. You don’t HAVE to use the backup camera…but if you’ve been in any new cars, you’d know that rear visibility is becoming a bigger and bigger issue, especially as trucks and SUVs get bigger and bigger.

Cars and technologies evolve, and if you’re already laying out tens of thousands of dollars for a new car, a few hundred extra bucks worked in for a backup camera shouldn’t bring out the crocodile tears.

+1 It is not about the person driving the car. It is about the person behind the car that is about to be run over. There should also be a fine for people that turn off the camera.

Well, stop standing behind my car in my driveway or lingering in parking lots and we won’t have an issue…

@Lou_BC No, I read the proposal, and it says, unless you are in a backing up situation, the display, or at least the image of the rear of the car, must be turned off, to prevent driver distraction.

VolandoBajo – My truck has the monitor built into the mirror and I drove an F150 with the monitor built into the dash mounted MyTouch. It is simple, you put it into reverse and it turns on. If takes over the MyTouch display. Same thing happens with the back up sensors. When they activate and start beeping they over-ride the volume on the stereo. You can disable the reverse sensor with a push of the button but not the camera. It actually would be nice in some instances to activate the rear camera and leave it on i.e. to keep an eye on a towed trailer on a rough road.

@LouBC You can get a third party device called the “lockpick” to enable things like towing cameras in MFT. Not cheap, though — about $350.

And there are many honest, hardworking, taxpaying citizens who cannot afford to pay tens of thousands of dollars for transportation, and for whom a few hundred dollars is not a trivial matter.

Your arrogance, lack of compassion for others not as fortunate as you, and your flippant dismissal of anyone who questions the wisdom of FORCING RELIANCE on backup cameras, instead of just ALLOWING them, makes me wonder if your driving habits also reflect such flippancy and indifference to others who are not members of the class you perceive yourself to be in.

I’m glad I only have to encounter you on a written forum and can choose to ignore you. I will wager that others find you an insufferably arrogant boor in real life.

Try looking at the facts of the subject, next time, instead of ignoring them, and try to learn to consider legitimate differences, and if you disagree, try giving a reason that would work for everyone, and not just people who don’t mind buying several hundred dollar accessories they like but don’t need, in the tens of thousands of dollar cars.

In fact, if you feel you need a camera to drive, what did you do to drive safely by your standards before there were cameras in cars?

That you fail to mention the very real nanny state regs that have moved vehicles toward tank-grade visibility is telling. Yeah, I know – it’s all For The Children…

@ihatetrees It is always “All for the Children”. Send us money, we are doing this for the children. Doesn’t matter what “it” is…after all, it is for the children, how can you be against it?

“Personally, I love it. I think it’s great. I say this because I drive a rather large vehicle.”

So YOU support forcing ME to have a backup camera whether I like it or not. Tell you what, I support the government mandating no more “rather large vehicles.” How does it feel to hear me say that I support forcing YOU to drive a “rather small vehicle.” That seems fair.

Irony aside, ban SUVs. That’s a safety hazard: not being able to see around (or through) the car in front of you.

If you are that close to the back of my pickup that you can’t see around it then you deserve to plow into the back of it.

here’s the thing… backup cameras and screens are basically commodity items… they are components of tablets and smartphones and laptops etc.

hell, you buy any of the small Korean CUVs these days, they throw in a screen and camera, the govt. doesnt need to mandate it, the market wants it, you buy a CUV, its a sweetener

Exactly. Its like McDonalds deciding to not use chickens fed human antibiotics. Consumer demand is far more effecting at creating change than legislation. Most people want a backup camera integrated into the already existing screen. And power windows. And side air bags. So fine, give them what sells and leave the NHTSA out of this.

@SCO an admirable idea, leaving NHTSA out of it. Would greatly simplify the process if we let consumer demand and market forces, plus engineering innovation, dictate the solution(s).

Unfortunately, however, Congress put NHTSA in the soup in 2007, when they wrote the enabling/requiring legislation.

It is not only an issue if manufacturers make it one…you are ignoring the government’s ability to make it an imposition.

There are some stringent proposed operational and systems integration issues that at the least will require some form of computerized control module integrated with the vehicle’s ODB II and drivetrain control modules.

And NHTSA’s analysis looked better in supporting their proposal, the lower their cost estimate. Yet they still came up with an estimate, developed in conjunction with most of the major manufacturers and automotive and electronics suppliers, of at least $500+.

The requirements are stringent enough that NHTSA has agreed to delay the rollout by a few years to hold the cost down to that level, by allowing the manufacturers to address the issue as part of their normal vehicle design/redesign process, rather than making them do an after-design integration process.

Better re-think your optimistic cost estimates a bit. If the government admits a program of theirs is going to cost you some money, you can be sure it will cost you at least that much money.

I am agin any feature that was not on my ’48 Chevy pickup. This includes padded dashboards, seat belts, air bags, crush zones and pollution controls. And the starter button and the high beam dimmer switch belong on the floor where God intended them! And why did the guvmint take away my pop up cowl vent and my side vent windows, not to mention the running boards? And if a flat windshield (with none of that damn safety glass) was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me. I want my bias ply tires back too, none of those damn French radial tires.

@Jack Denver How about we leave radials optional, allow the starter button to be on the dash, and let the safety features be an option that you must pay for if you elect to use them.

If you’ll make those changes, and allow the design standard to include any configuration that was on a ’40 Ford or ’51 Mercury, you’ve got my vote.

And I might argue that we should make safety glass a requirement if it is replaced. Other than that, I think you are onto something a lot of people could back.

Jack Denver – your post reminds me why I find it hilarious when journalists complain about pickups that do not have soft touch plastics. I remember the day when basically everything other than the seats and vinyl floor mats were metal.

Some days when reading the ramblings of the B&B I really feel like I need to invest in a tinfoil factory. I have some Luddite tendencies when it comes to cars, but dear God some of these people are simply ridiculous.

But I’m stick of the dang gubment trying to protect me from myself. This all started because a bunch of idiot parents who BACKED OVER THEIR OWN CHILDREN refused to take responsibility for their lack of driving skills, lack of common sense, lack of perception, and lack of parenting.

The government isn’t trying to protect you from yourself. The government is trying to protect your children from you, or from your neighbors.

I doubt the government is trying to protect anyone. Who is going to profit from the mandate? I’d sooner believe that some major campaign donor or a regulator’s old college roommate is about to become a zillionaire.

Remember, politicians want *votes* [because they like their cushy jobs and their power], and “I made cars safer and saved your BABIES!” gets *votes*.

And no, the NHTSA doesn’t need a new billion dollar website to promulgate another rule to carmakers. They use plain text to do that, on their existing website.

@Sigivald Ah, but we will need to educate the users of the systems. And all those public service announcements to remind users how to be careful and always pay attention to the system. Probably not a billion dollars but a tidy little contract for some connected Beltway firm.

Yeah your government cares about you, with a little prompting (millions) from the insurance industry.

The insurance industry cares deeply about death, injuries and damage. Well, they care about the money they have to pay out in claims for those, which pretty much amounts to the same thing, in practice. If they’re willing to spend $millions, they must think it’s worth $billions in lives and property.

@KixStart And the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety expressed concern that experience with Mercedes Benz’s with and without backup cameras seemed to have a higher claim rate for backing up accidents where there was a backup camera. They attributed it to users being distracted and confused by it. So they don’t sound so much like unmitigated supporters as players who are reluctantly tagging along because they don’t want to be left out of subsequent decision-making loops.

This is a policy debate, not a bumper sticker. The government helps millions of people all the time, including you, the last time you drove on a road, or used the Internet, or bought food and ate it, or got your kids vaccinated, or didn’t get mugged or killed by an invading army.

Really? This would be a more appropriate argument if there was a another formal land army on the continent capable of a threat. Our army is too busy deploying to 150 other countries.

One could also argue the flood of Central American illegals is a foreign invader which gov’t fails to protect against.

@Astigmatism I forgot about that. Chairman Barack re-educated us about that. “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t create that. The government did that for you.”

But it wasn’t the government as a whole that gave us the Internet. Just before Al Gore discovered his Inconvenient Data, which he took to be Truth, he told us about “back when I invented the Internet”. There were so many university based intellectuals and scholars and engineers who finally learned the truth, that they had been lied to and told that it was invented by the universities, and funded by DARPA. Al Gore nearly went down in history without the credit he finally claimed for inventing the Internet for us. My life has never been the same, since I learned who really created my former business and how I came to be able to use the Internet.

No, @Astigmatism the government is trying to heal the anguish of idiot parents who are eaten up with guilt because they failed to watch out for their children, they are using our money for one of the most expensive therapy programs in history, and they are providing job security for themselves in doing so.

Only you can’t really blame NHTSA, they are just the agent. Besides parents failing to face the fact their children are dead due to their own actions, Congress is guilty for jumping on a platform that looked like motherhood and apple pie to support, and the kiss of death to vote against.

And don’t forget the special interest groups that provided a focus for the idiot parents to bring their program to fruition, thereby helping to fund the special interest groups, and allowing the idiot parents to feel like they had done something “to honor their children’s lives, and force the evil manufacturers to do something about all the children their (alleged) lack of care caused to die just like their own did.”

I feel sorry for those parents, but not enough to spend what is admitted to be at least a quarter to a half a billion dollars to help them heal their guilt.

I feel reasonably comfortable in my remembering to make sure that I have a clear path behind my car when I back up. The ponytail and sunglasses backing her QX80 out of the Whole Foods parking lot on the way home from Pilates? The frat kid backing his Evoque a half-block down the street with a keg in the back? Not so much.

If the government mandating a $130 piece of equipment be included in new cars costing an average of over $30,000 makes it less likely that people will be killed by other people’s stupidity, then I’m for it.

And please, there’s already enough misinformation about the price of cars, so let’s can the talk about how much cheaper they used to be, even in jest. As our own Jack Baruth has noted, a 1995 Aspire was a vile shitbox, and still cost $8995, or $14,000 in modern money. That’s enough to buy a Nissan Versa or a Chevy Spark and throw a MacBook Air into the passenger seat.

Someone who *doesn’t care* that they’re backing up two or three tons of metal blindly by not using the rearview mirror is suddenly going to start using a backup camera screen religiously?

The study specifically noted that people ignored warning sounds, and implicitly assumed that visual aids would work where sound aids did not. As you said @Sigivald we hava a winner.

They are a band-aid for inherently poorly designed vehicles, as outward visibility is a key characteristic of a good vehicle. The dolts that have their phones plastered to their ears from the moment that they start the car will continue to back over their own kids, camera or no.

Bubbles……… and to think some people thought that Trailer Park Boys was a reality show about real guys.

Okay……… after making that comment I now believe we do need the government protecting us from ourselves ;)

My newest daily driver is a 1985 Mercedes 300D. It has analogue rear view cams,one on each door and one in the center of the windshield.

And that one on the windshield is amply W-I-I-I-I-I-D-E and rectangular, not like the clown-inspired “smiley” contraptions found in the similar-sized CLA of today — all gorp, no visibility. (Today’s version of your car, the E-Klasse, is around the size of a ’70s-ish short-wheelbase S-Klasse, yes?)

I think the cameras are great for backing out of parking spots. They can be a tremendous aid in that particular situation. But, I was at UPS when cameras were first installed on Package Cars. For a while after implementation, backing accident rates actually went up. Drivers got lazy, or trusted the camera too much, or just forgot the fundamentals (when in doubt, get out). It took a lot of extra training (read: discipline) before people started using it just as an additional aid, and not the only aid. It’s not entirely analogous, of course. Camera placement and vehicle design meant a lot more blind spots than even a typical large SUV. But the point somewhat holds: if you rely too much on the camera, bad things will still happen. A child young enough and unaware enough to stay behind your CUV when you start it up, is also unaware enough to stay hidden under the bumper, out of camera view, when you start up. They may be after a toy, or after the cat, or just taking a short cut to the side of the vehicle. If you want government to “save the children,” then mandate that people actually look behind their vehicle before backing up. If you have children, or are in an area with children, young enough to be concerned about behind a vehicle, forget the camera. Get out and look. To not do so is irresponsible to an unfathomable degree.

Guy driving the long-term Highlander at Edmunds was backing into a spot in a parking garage, using the backup camera. He backed right into some sprinkler-system piping, which was pretty large, painted white, that was mounted exactly at eye level (too high for the backup camera to see…) and must have looked as big as life in his inside rearview mirror, if only he had bothered to look at it. Popped the backlight on the Highlander.

But just as with the LaneWatch on my Accord, the b/u camera is a “sanity” check after turning my head, AFTER checking mirrors!

Backup cameras are intended to enhance our existing situational awareness, not replace it. Nobody has 100% situational awareness every single time they put the car in reverse. This technology is intended to help bridge the gap. God forbid we try to incrementally improve something. Otherwise cars would have no airbags, no power steering, no power brakes, etc etc.

For those complaining about government intervention, have you ripped out the airbags and disabled the ABS from your car yet? What about the evaporative emissions controls? We all love a car that oozes that scent of leaking gas fumes. After all, you don’t want the big “government nanny” telling you how your car should be equipped.

@LeMansteve Sometime an incremental change is not an incremental improvement and may even be an incremental reversal. Note the comment about the UPS driver experiences, and they were professional drivers.

I like having airbags, as they are demonstrably safer. I accept evaporative emissions control, because the cost is nil, the performance impact is nil and the public good is benefited collectively.

But I was glad to buy a car that handles well and has no ABS and an open rear end, because I know how to drive, and is as safe or safer in panic stops, because I remember to fan the brakes, and is actually safer in snow. In an emergency I want to be able to do all it is capable of, not make assumptions to diminish performance in order to try to prevent me from further diminishing it, something I learned long ago not to do with brakes.

But just because the government has mandated some things that are good, does not mean that all things that government mandates are.

So how much weight will This add? It just keeps adding up, pound by pound. A Festiva ST already weighs over 3000 pounds doesn’t it? That’s nearly what a mid sized car weighed back in the mid-sixties, back when people somewhat knew how to drive. At some point, you’ve got to balance Darwinism against protecting our environment.

Just give us our freaking windows back. And don’t give me that BS about some mandated standard (but no one ever seems to be able to cite the actual standard) requiring tiny windows and bathtub high beltlines. It’s fashion, and it’s an antifunctional fashion.

If people can’t be trusted to keep their eyes on the road when there’s a cell phone in the car with them, how can they be trusted to do so when there’s a huge TV screen right in the middle of the car with a camera running? The good thing about analog gauges is that they are so boring to look at that your eyes soon leave them and go back up to the road where they belong.

This is the reason I oppose heads up displays as well. If your eyes are focused on the inside of the windshield 5 feet in front of your nose, they are not focused on the road 500 feet in front of your nose where they should be.

The entire point of a HUD is that your eyes stay up and front, rather than … looking down at the speedo/console.

It’s not like it’s showing what’s behind you while you’re driving forward … unlike the rearview mirror, which somehow DOESN’T trap people’s eyes and cause them to kill everyone with a crash?

I mean, I applaud your desire for real windows and visibility, but those two complains are … weird.)

In conjunction with the back-up radar, I like the cameras. Our two SUVs have both, as does the Camaro. The Camaro really needs both. I still turn around and look, but the camera and radar can see a small child that I cannot, even when I turn around. My next vehicles will have the cross-path radar as well.

Fun reading these comments. Some people don’t want to be told what to do, or what not to do, no matter *how* stupid the other option is. Reminds me of the debate over motorcycle helmet laws. Fortunately, common sense generally prevails (at least in most states). The Freedom of Choice at Any Cost states continue to bounce their noggins off the asphalt at 60 mph. Maybe the federal government should go ahead and take this one by the horns…

Yup, we should have the freedom to improve the odds of removing our flawed genetics from the gene pool.

Ever notice that the proponents of “Freedom of choice at any cost” are the ones that shouldn’t be reproducing in the first place?

Cost: LCD displays will soon become universal and that’s the most expensive part of the system. If a web vendor can make a profit selling me one camera for $20, how much will they cost a carmaker buying them by the palletload? $2.00?

Weight: You’ve got to be kidding me. This is not the Dumont they filmed The Honeymooners with. The camera weighs less than the bottle of water you brought into the car with you.

Just make windows bigger: Unless they make pickups, SUVs, and minivans with all-glass tailgates these vehicles never had decent rear visibility and never will.

Just use your mirrors: You cannot make reflections that bend around corners. Try to do that and you will get a great image of your quarter panel; hopefully the object you’re trying to avoid backing over is there.

My objection is that this will not solve the issue – oblivious idiots backing over their own kids. If you are on the phone from the minute you start the car, then camera or not, you are not paying attention to what you should be doing in the first place – driving.

So we shouldn’t do anything to help alleviate any issue unless we can solve it entirely in one fell swoop? I’ll keep that in mind the next time someone advocates for spending cuts.

NHTSA admits the cost will be ove five hundred dollars, and the only data they had about the cameras was statistically inconclusive (sample size) but indicated that possibly more accidents occurred.

And another commenter noted that when UPS used them, it led to increases in backup reasons for a variety of possible reasons, but regardless of the cause, safety declined. People stopped using their eyes, their legs and their heads.

And you can make reflections bend around corners. It is called a periscope, and it can be horizontal as easily as vertical and doesn’t need to have an enclosing case between the mirrors.

I’ve owned well over 40 cars in my lifetime, plus have had a bunch of company cars. Two of the biggest cars I’ve owned were a 1973 Cadillac sedan, and a 1993 Dodge Intrepid. Never had any trouble driving them. But those cars had something in common that is lacking in today’s cars: excellent outward visibility. I rented a brand-new Chrysler 300 for a two-week trip last summer and, while I loved the car, it was not equipped with a rear backup camera, and I greatly missed that feature on it because backing it up was awful. And I suspect the 300 is not one of the worst culprits, probably backing up one of those popular CUV’s with the Nike logo shaped windows must be a chore as well. So, in our modern reality, I definitely do think backup cameras should be standard on all cars.

“So the automakers take full advantage of this by installing a “standard” backup camera, and then jacking up the price of each vehicle by $1,100, even though it costs them the same amount of money to make a backup camera as it does for you and I to buy a Sharpie six-pack at Office Depot.”

There’s already a pile of mandated equipment in every car. By your logic, a new Ford Fiesta should cost about $365,000. But it doesn’t. In inflation-adjusted dollars, it’s probably about the same as a 1972 Ford Pinto and it’s a much better car.

Fiestas sticker at $14.5k, with offers as low as $13.7k around here – and I can’t even find a Rio cheaper than that, at least not advertised.

So, you were close, but not quite – but you’re damned right that it’s a FAR better car in *every* way, and indisputably a better value, if the cost can be managed.

@KixStart by your math, the new systems will cost a few hundred thousand dollars. I reject your analysis entirely, as you have gone from being serious to trying to use ridicule to support what you lack facts for.

1) you want the tech, you buy it. All kinds of cars offer it. It’s available now. If you don’t want it, why should you be forced to pay.

2) having used cars with cameras and cars with prox beepers, the beepers are enormously better. No need to look forward at a screen while reversing (when you should be looking behind you). You can’t screw it up. You can’t misjudge the beep can’t miss seeing your kid in the screen, etc. Never had a problem with beeper not working because of salt etc. I am against mandating of this stuff, but beepers IMHO should have been done before a camera.

3) what’s the payout here? I seem to recall that even at the what I believe are inflated estimated lives saved, it was still some absurd cost per life.

4) it infuriates me to no end that people in the USA can drive without “mandatory” insurance, that they can drive on old bald tires in snowstorms, drive cars that have lamps that don’t work, brakes that don’t work, etc… And we’re focusing on backup cameras?! Again, I lean to the side of freedom but really I’d be way more for annual safety inspections, a winter tire requirement if driving in winter conditions, and some sort of system that removes registration automatically if insurance isn’t paid way before I’d spend any time on these cameras.

So freedom/choice (buy it if you wanna), horrid cost to benefit ratio, and focusing completely on something with minimal benefit while other bigger safety issues get ignored are the reasons I absolutely hate this mandate.

Jerome10 – I have sensors on the back of my truck. If the camera gets obliterated by snow and ice or mud then the sensors don’t work well either.

I do agree that there are more important things to fixate upon than backup cameras. Tires are a prime example.

@Jerome10 The estimated total cost of the program, typically lowballed by government feasibility studies, was between 250 and 400 million dollars. And the estimated number of deaths per year was in the low triple digits, 200 something I think, but the report is long so I don’t want to review it again. But the estimated number of lives saved per year is thirteen.

But the govt. rejected the idea of beepers. The reason: studies showed that people ignored the beepers and backed up and killed or injured people anyway.

Then they used that fact to justify the use of more technology, namely the cameras. But there were NO studies that showed that people who would ignore a backup beeper warning would be able to figure out that an image showed danger, and would respond by stopping.

Further, I believe backup beepers can do a better job of detecting beneath the vehicle and ahead of the bumper, an areaa the cameras wouldn’t be designed to show. Apparently the implicit logic was that drivers would be able to see the child approaching the car, and be warned before the child’s image disappeared from camera range.

Beside the absurdity of that implicit assumption, there is no provision with the camera to be able to capture an image of a child or dog approachiong the vehicle from the side near the rear of the vehicle, and then crawling behind the rear tires, and under the bumper.

And although I already think the overall concept is DOA, there was no attempt to try to incorporate motion detection logic into the output of the camera, in order to provide a positive “target acquisistion” by the system, possibly accompanied by a voice warning to wake up those drivers who not only would have missed a beeper warning, but now must not only look at camera images, but must recognize that they represent something as not belonging in the image.

That seems to place a pretty heavy burden on the lowest common denominator drivers who would be the cause of deaths.

If you can’t see that aspect of the whole thing, you must have the most Pollyanna-ish viewpoint of the intelligence and awareness of even the least intelligent and most unaware of drivers. Such people, not saying it is you, must also be firmly convinced that the Darwin awards are works of fiction.

And the sad part is children, old people, animals, and ordinary adults are all going to continue to get run over at a 95% rate compared to the lack of any system, even if the proposed system works as planned, and at that 20 million bucks a life cost.

Hell, if lives are that precious, you’d think that they would be a bit more stringent about testing some of the assumptions and potential loopholes of their proposed system.

But Congresss funds NHTSA, and Congress ordered NHTSA to come up with a program that does what the beepers were failing to do (due to drivers ignoring those warnings.)

And NHTSA, aware of which side of the bread their butter was on, came up with a study that showed that cameras were a newer technology, and then just assumed that people would obey them better than they obeyed beepers.

Personally, I wouldn’t bet a plug nickel on the lives of the thirteen people per year they believe they are going to save with this quarter of a billion dollars or more.

But unfortunately for me, and fortunately for Vegas, there won’t be any prop bets available on the “against the claims of the system” side.

If they were as blind to the total picture as the study is, Vegas would be a ghost town, populated only by tumbleweed and cow skulls. And maybe the skeletons of twelve or thirteen dead broke bookmakers.

It’s a great tool for today’s sightline-challenged vehicles, but the problem is getting people to use it as a tool and not a crutch. It’s great for parallel parking and trying to conduct a turn in a tight space. It’s not that I couldn’t do that stuff before, the camera allows even more precision.

Plus, it can help you see toward the sides when backing out between a large vehicle or two, before you put your bumper out to the point of no return.

If bad sightlines are here to stay, then the cameras are needed. I don’t find it hard to check the camera as I’m backing, no different than checking a mirror.

@gearhead77 The cameras will do nothing to prevent the same people who ignore beeper warnings from failing to recognize images of danger.

And there is no provision in the requirements for having the cameras see outside of the space directly behind the vehicle, as I understand it, so you’d better still be careful sticking your bumper out into traffic when parked, or opening your door after parking.

The same people who don’t look now and who don’t respond to beeping warnings will continue to be lulled into indifference by misplaced trust with regard to what the system is doing for them. It will NOT do anything to identify if a child or animal is in the zone. It will still require the user to focus on the screen and recognize what is going on.

And if they are too lazy or oblivious to respond to a beeper or to check carefully behind and under the car before leaving, why do you think they are going to be any more careful in recognizing a possibly stationary image surrounded by another image, in black and white, no less.

Our Odyssey does a pretty good job at about 120-140 degrees from the center of the bumper. I’m not going to trust it 100%, but it can see beyond the sides of a tall truck or SUV well before my eyes can see (with 20/20 uncorrected vision and acute peripheral vision). The key as we all know is caution and a swiveling head when backing.

As others have mentioned, they can be useless when the snow flies and they get coated with road grime, though a quick swipe with a cloth does the trick. Also, right now the systems can’t differentiate dog, kid, ball,etc. But as the tech improves, why couldn’t it?

Look, I agree better driver education is the key. But it’s just not going to happen in the US. Unless we mandate driver training? Or mandate recurrent training every few years? But then who needs to do it? People who’ve been driving a long time? People who haven’t been driving long enough? Everyone at a given interval depending on age? Everyone annually?

Mandating driver training, how well will that go over, especially for those who opposed to anything the government does? Especially if it’s not your chosen political side. Public Service Announcements? We see how well that’s doing on the distracted driving front. How can we fix our drivers ed system which has long since been broken?

What if the manufacturers push for replacing side-view mirrors (wing mirrors) with cameras to eliminate drag, wind noise,etc. My Odyssey has Honda’s Lanewatch system and while I don’t find it useful for 99% of the driving I do with it,but I can see it replacing the sideview mirror. How many folks use their mirrors? How often do you see people driving with their mirrors folded in because that’s how they park wherever they are and they don’t unfold them to drive with them?

Most cameras in any new car are color screens, so I’m not sure where your black and white comment comes from. The differentiation seems to be in the lines/no-lines and if it shows the trajectory based on the way the wheels are turned.

My Accord’s LaneWatch is a “sanity check” because I’ve picked up the habit of using the one-touch (three-blink) lane-change signal, and by the time it stops (and the LaneWatch camera with it), my head is coming back to straight-ahead after having looked over my right shoulder to check my blind spot. (Don’t know about your Oddy, but on a 2015 CR-V EX-L loaner I drove, I didn’t see the LaneWatch for the same reason, plus I’d have my head around just a bit more, since I’m not used to the elevated driving position. However, BOTH displays on that CR-V, as in your Oddy, IIRC, are AWESOME on the big DisplayAudio screen! :-) )

In the US, more people die each year from falling out of bed than being backed over by a car. Measuring the cost of backup cameras in terms of lives saved comes to ~$18 MILLION per life saved.

Backing over kids just isn’t as common as the “Think of the children!” causes would have you believe, and the instances where it does happen are typically preventable through other, simple practices like walking behind your car and counting heads before starting the engine.

I don’t dislike cameras. They do their job quite well, IMO. But that job is protecting trash cans and fenders. They don’t save lives. I fully support having them be available for those who want to buy them, but IMO, regulation is an overreach. If govt has to get involved, my preference would be first to mandate visibility which is a real problem for which cameras are a band-aid.

My sister was backed over in a shopping center parking lot 2 years ago, she is still recovering. The camera doesn’t eliminate accidents, but if it reduces some, it’s worth it.

30 years ago, the carmakers were still whining about installing airbags. They weren’t mandated until 1998, which was too late for me. I was involved in a head-on, and my upper jaw was broken when I hit the steering wheel. Lost a lot of blood and a lot of teeth. Yes, I was wearing a seat belt and shoulder strap or I would have gone out the windshield. I have had lots of problems with my teeth and jaw since. I consider myself lucky, because if my forehead had hit the wheel, I would have had a closed head injury and been a vegetable the rest of my life. If I had an airbag, I probably could have walked out of that without serious injury.

Some data furnished by Mercedes concerning backing accidents in their cars both with and without cameras, suggested, although it did not statistically prove due to a smallish sample size, that the cars with cameras were actually involved in backing accidents at a HIGHER rate than Mercedes wihout them.

It seems people were distracted, delayed and confused by cameras, more than they were aided by them, when it came to accidents occurring while backing up.

I am sorry for what happened to you and to your sister, but it is fool’s gold to think that the proposed system is going to be a slam dunk improvement with regard to backing accidents.

And please tell your sister and your friends to never walk near the back of cars in parking lots, always keep an eye peeled for reverse lights, and don’t be afraid or too shy to shout out if a car starts to back out towards you.

That is a backup warning system you can be sure a driver will hear, if you are serious about wanting to avoid being run over. There is no evidence cameras will help you, as there is no evidence that drivers will respond to their output, any more than some drivers respond to beeping warnings, which NHTSA acknowledges are a deficient system due to careless driver behavior.

Please do not put your eggs in the basket of magic backup cameras that somehow are supposed to cause careless drivers to do what other warning systems fail to do.

As I said before, backup cameras as a tool to prevent being run over by a car in reverse is fool’s gold.

If the car is closed up with the latest in “music” being cranked through the stereo at ear-splitting volume, your shouting isn’t going to be heard!

The people who should be crying here are the body shop owners. I live in a suburban area with lots of CUVs and vans, and the amount of bodywork repairs we’ve needed over the last 10 years due to drivers backing into our cars would pay for a lifetime of backup cameras.

I for one am deeply offended that the government would mandate that a $5 camera come with the purchase of every $30,000 car. Why can’t the federal government go back to the good old days when it focused on telling women what they could do with their bodies, forcing Japanese into concentration camps and illegally mining Nicaraguan harbors?

Where’s MY Bay of Pigs? Where does all this regulation end? With the “sheeples” forced to wear safety belts and put their kids in special car seats in the back seat? Crazy.

When I was a boy, we went on vacation with my brother Seamus strapped to the roof of the car. And he was fine. For a dog.

And that the effect on actual safety will be marginal if not insignificant. But hey, if you like something, you gotta cheer when they force everyone to have it goshdurnit.

That’s $435 million per life saved annually, based on the NHTSA’s own claims for lives saved once all vehicles are equipped.

The number I saw via Autoblog was $18M/life. My own calcs predicted $16M/life, so I believed their number.

My number is based on a fleet of 200,000 vehicles, a cost of $150, and the NHTSA’s assertion that 58 to 69 lives a year will be saved once every vehicle in the fleet is equipped with a camera. If the average cost falls to $90/vehicle, the cost of maintaining the camera-equipped fleet will only be $1.35 billion a year, bringing marginal cost per life saved down to about $21 million. OTOH, if the government does anything to hasten the replacement rate of cars not equipped or simply reduce the presence of older vehicles on the road, then the cost to society raises exponentially.


If one wants to look at cost per life then one also needs to factor in lost income due to that death. If 58 to 69 children will die per year and the median income in the USA is 52K there will be a loss of 3.016 – 3.588 million dollars per year (average 3.3 million) but one also needs to factor in an additional 58-69 deaths per year over the span of implementation. It goes up exponentially i.e. 3.3 million year one, 6.6 year 2, 9.9 year 3…….

Most death claims tend to look at lost income and add in more nebulous factors such as personal/emotional pain/suffering.

I had a typo in my last post. Should have been a fleet of 200,000,000 vehicles, which is close to reality.

The avoidance of lost income, the value of a life, etc. are benefits. Cost and benefit are different (although obviously related) concepts.

The cost calculation is just what it is. If you want to debate it, then argue for the inclusion of injuries and property damage into the total.

I saw cost figures of 250 million to 400 million, and a table that showed the estimated number of lives saved to be about 13.

That is where I came up with the approximately $20 million per life figure, which is in the same ballpark as the $16-18 million per life (at least) calculated by another member and also reported to be the number Autoblog came up with.

If I recall correctly, the study that NHTSA wrote several years ago prior to passage of the law in 2008 pegged it at around $150.

More recent numbers place it at $43-45 if the car already has a screen on the dash, and $132-142 if it doesn’t.

I’m sure that’s one reason that NHTSA was passive-aggressive in its delayed implementation. These dash screens are already being installed, anyway; the cost of this program drops significantly if it’s just a matter of adding a camera. (And as is the case with other consumer technologies, cameras are falling in price.) The cost of saving a life has fallen to something less than $26.3 million.

There are other advantages to backup cameras. If fixing your rear bumper costs $1,000, and there is a 10% chance over a car’s 20 year life you’ll back into something with the camera, and 20% chance without, then you would save $100. Plus the damage to whatever you might hit.

Given that nearly every new car sold now has a screen on the dash, a backup camera costs perhaps $50. So what the libertarians are whining about is that the government is mandating new cars be sold with something that more than pays for itself and also saves a few lives on the side.

The cameras don’t really help. This is not a left-right issue. Active safety doesn’t work generally, and this is no exception.

I agree. In the last apartment I lived in, I backed my GS one evening in the garage, and bumped the roughly stuccoed wall with a corner of the bumper, in a part where the corner of the garage cut in at a square, because of a pipe or beam in the wall. It caused a dent in the plastic and creased the paint in the bumper, which chipped off after that.

It was quite literally because of an optical illusion caused by partial darkness, and reflection of the brake lamps off the wall. This is the only time I’ve ever hit anything when parking.

True, though … remember that most of the time if you back into something, it doesn’t hurt your bumper enough to need replacement or repair.

If you’re reversing fast enough to ruin your bumper, you’re … reversing *way too fast*, typically.

There will be those who look at the screen without seeing it, and the information provided will not provoke a reaction.

There will be those who become complacent because of the cameras and become involved in crashes that they may have otherwise avoided.

Pch101 – the irony of all this is in the fact that the back up camera will be a benefit mostly to those who don’t really need it i.e. those who are careful and pay attention.

I was backing out of my garage, and the porta-john my condo development’s siding contractor was using was safely off to my left.

Unfortunately, I didn’t see (and hadn’t looked — my bad) that the contractor had placed a ladder flat on a platform which was back-stopped by said porta-john, and which was below window-level.

Result: a nice gouge in my decklid, zero damage to the ladder! $600 to fix the trunk, which was never “right” again because the impact happened across a character-line; in retrospect, I should have had my body shop look for a decklid from a frontal “total” in my car’s color.

@Pch101 I don’t know where you got your numbers, unless they are for the camera alone and not the entire backup system.

There is a table in the study that shows an estimated cost per system in excess of five hundred dollars, and then subtracts supposed benefits of two hundred some dollars to arrive at a net cost to society of around two hundred dollars.

But the cost to put the system on a car will not be offset to the owner of the car by the presumed societal savings, so the direct cost is estimated to be at least five hundred dollars per.

Actually, I *did* just read the NHTSA final rule, and they estimate the cost per vehicle at $132-142 for cars not already equipped with screens, and $43-45 to add a camera to a car already equipped with a screen.


Ha. I was directing my comment toward to the guy to whom you were responding, not to you. He needs to do less typing and more research.

I saw the $500+ number in one of the prior year studies. After reading the recent press release announcement, it seems like a good bit of cosmetic editing was done. The price reduction may be real, or just making it sound better.

The figure about close to 300 deaths per year but that only about 13 lives would be saved (because they figured the stupid will still do stupid things, perhaps?) was edited down to just mentioning that there 300 deaths per year. The studied estimate of only 13 lives saved had been “mercifully” relegated to history, hence making the program look much more worthwhile.

Now I guess we’ll have to wait and see, for the post-implentation studies to be done, to find out the true cost.

No, the $150 is more like the amount that the cost will exceed the supposed savings from avoided hospitalization, etc.

Read the study more carefully. The cost of the systems themselves is pegged at a little bit over $500. And when was the last time you saw a government study that predicted a price, and the system was delivered at or under that price.

A final cost of in excess of more like $1,000 per system (which needs to be more than just a camera and screen, as designed and mandated), is a more likely real world outcome.

On a $20,000 car that is like a 5% tax, plus you will pay other taxes on that “tax”. And then it is only conjectured that oblivious drivers will respond better to silent black and white images than they have done in the past to beeper warning systems.

A word from my sponsor: “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall MAKE you free.” — John 8:32

Here is a module that retails for $407 that adds a Sony HD back up camera and allows you to plug in other video sources and overrides the safety features so you can watch that DVD or a video streaming on your iPhone.

Base price on the 2015 S is $22,010 and it includes a back up camera. However that is not the only addition, the 2015 also gained aluminum wheels as standard too.

In real world terms, this will probably end up costing next to nothing in the cars of the future. The screens will be there already, the wiring will be combined with the other existing wiring, the cameras will be a commodity item that are bought in bulk for low sums, and the installation on the assembly line will be as routinized as installing trim or a taillight.

That doesn’t mean that it will help with safety. At least by delaying the mandate, NHTSA created the basis for reducing the cost in the cost-benefit analysis. If a hasty retrofit had been required for existing designs (which would have been the case had NHTSA followed the schedule required in the law), then that would have been another matter.

A lot of the Cameras are currently as easy to instal as a tail light or trim and actually take next to zero extra time. For example on a lot of pickups where it is currently optional it is part of the tailgate handle so the only additional assembly time is plugging in the connector which takes 2 seconds. On other cars it is often integrated into a trim piece.

And here I thought responding to anything and everything with partisan talking points went out of favor after the Bush years. What a way to go through life.

@darkwing Where do you get the idea that figures taken from the proposing agency’s own reports, and citing conclusions that they offer, plus listing factors they did not consider in their report, amount to partisan talking points?

Are you that partisan that that is the only thing you can see when the government puts those things in a report that is available to you?

I was actually responding to VoGo’s weird non sequiturs about abortion and Mitt Romney — both of which, in a discussion about backup cameras, I think qualify as copied and pasted partisan talking points.

And yes, I agree with you totally, the nesting or lack thereof on this site is the worst I have seen anywhere, and I have been active on many forums over the last twenty or so years.

But I can’t take credit for the @ convention. I saw someone else on TTAC doing it, and decided to adopt it due to the lack of proper nesting.

Right now I don’t have reply buttons for some comments, and the replies I do make sometimes go who knows where.

Having the ability to sort by date, mark as read/unread, and view unread only would also make this a much better site.

It worked excellently, but ultimately he did not invest because of various hilarious reasons which you should see for yourself. Tony Soprano’s sister Janice guest stars in this episode as well!

@CoreyDL Thanks. I think Larry David’s comedy is really funny, but don’t spend time tracking down all of anything from TV, with a few rare exceptions – The Wire, Sopranos, Breaking Bad and SOA being the main ones. But I will surely take the time to watch this one.

No problem. You should be able to find it as a stream on a site called streamallthis. Works best if you use AdBlocker to prevent all the pop ups.

How about a companion drone to give an even better view. Maybe fly ahead to look for speed traps. Even better, launch a fleet of drones like a road going aircraft carrier.

I don’t think cameras should be manditory. Now those people who turned into some kind of hazard because the satnav said so will be focused only on the screen in their dash. Back up sensors are far better than cameras because they require you to look at more than a screen and clearly warn you of objects behind you.

I have both on my SuperDuty, and use both … but the sensors have the annoying habit of detecting things that are next to but not behind the truck, when backing into my driveway.

@Sigivald If a backup sensor gives so many false positives that you have come to ignore them, then I have two conclusions.

Perhaps you have put your finger on why there are so many backing up accidents where backup sensors were ignored by a driver, and if the sensors do that, and cause that result, then the backup sensor you are using is a flawed design.

I can understand why, in that case you would ignore them. I just hope you don’t go “False alarm!” and then proceed to back up. Instead, I hope you stop, check to make sure that that is the only thing triggering the sensor, and only after you are sure your vehicle is clear, proceed to back up. Do you? Because if not, one day you may end up being sadly disappointed, and that is not an exaggeration.

No I don’t think they need to be mandated, the back-up camera is a nice feature in my car but I haven’t really checked to see exactly see what the FOV is for the camera?

I thought they were mandated to prevent ankle-biter squashing? I guess if they are far enough from the bumper the camera will do its job but I imagine up close and offset it would require an ankle-biter’s own alarm system to warn of impending reduction to gooey gopher guts.

I find the reverse sensing system to be more effective (if over-zealous) as a tool for backing up however I imagine after awhile when I get used to both neither will be particularly effective at preventing me from running over somebody’s progeny as I use the back-up camera to confirm that the over zealous reverse sensing system is just being over zealous while I embed a 275mm wide Pirelli tread pattern into the head and chest of some errant three year old.

In other words, you should be able to see a kid who’s *touching* the corner of your bumper when you shift in to reverse; that’s the effect of the NHTSA rule.

(An infant, as the extreme case, would be … below the bumper-mounted ultrasonics sensors and thus invisible to both systems.

But if someone’s putting infants behind your rear tires, they have problems that no mandate can solve.)

(See https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2014/04/07/2014-07469/federal-motor-vehicle-safety-standards-rear-visibility#h-58;

@raph The cameras that are provided now are for the most part not compliant with the proposed final standard, which will be implemented over the next four or five years on a rolling percentage increase per year, to allow the manufacturers time to develop the necessary systems and to ramp up.

And it appears that in addition to characteristics different from existing systems, manufacturers might add additional features, such as locking the transmission out of reverse until the backup camera has booted and has displayed an image long enough to be eyeballed before backing up. Hence, the full complexity, and true cost, can only be estimated, but will likely be higher than initial governmental estimates, as such types of systems integration begin to unfold, if only as a means for manufacturers to avoid liability suits and or expensive recall campaigns.

NHTSA is just throwing out a vague system design in the hope that it will produce results, and with the hope that manufacturers will find some way to make it overcome the tendency of at least a small percentage of drivers not to use it at all, or to glance at it and fail to recognize what they are seeing.

But with the hot potato of liability tossed over the fence to manufacturers, I wouldn’t put it past some marque or marques to invent a positive reverse lockout mechanism if any motion is detected at the rear, and including a larger than mandated area to cover under the bumper, entering from the side, and other scenarios not addressed by the basic requirement.

If done correctly, those marques might even be able to use those extended features as both a marketing advantage, and a bargaining chip advantage with NHTSA in other areas.

I wish I could patent that idea, but perhaps it is too broad to do so, and doubtless manufacturers would swear that they had already thought of that. After all, remember what happened to the inventor of the variable speed windshield washer.

But a combination of a wider area object sensor combined with positive backup prevention during the presence of an object behind you, would make a hell of an effective technique.

But on the other hand, in a parking lot, pedestrians could continue to walk behind you all afternoon during Christman shopping season, while you would be unable to back out of your parking space.

And what happens the first time a carjacking is facilitated and initiated by the placement of a cinderblock behind the rear bumper of a parked vehicle, prior to overpowering and removing the driver from the vehicle?

So I think I’ll leave it to the engineers and the lawyers to sort that one out, and if it becomes the hot feature in two or three years, I’ll refer back to this in a letter to their legal department, and then wait to see if I win the invention lottery.

But I am convinced that the system as presently designed is riddled with flaws and loopholes that will allow the same people who back over dogs and children to continue to do so in the future, and likely at the same, or perhaps even an elevated frequency, depending on whether the screen distracts them the way texting or phoning while driving would.

Perhaps there’d be an “emergency” override via the accelerator pedal — feathering it will be as slow as idling out with foot on brake.

I think it’s a good thing, because sometimes people or animals will cross the rear of the car at the last second. Plus it’s helpful for parking with the size of today’s land barges.

I wish I had one in my car and have even looked on Amazon for the Chinese VW radios that have a camera port as I’d like to retrofit one. Mandating them is the only way to get all manufacturers to include them as standard equipment. I know that with the 2015 VWs, the camera only comes as part of a higher trim package for some models. Even though I’m not a fan of Honda, I applaud them for offering them across their line already.

While I don’t agree with government mandating things, the cost of these camera systems are very small (<$200 in most cases) and the benefit is well worth it. It's near impossible to park a full size truck anymore without one.

@kericf Perhaps a camera just for parking can be had for less than $200, but NHTSA is building in additional requirements beyond just a camera and a screen, and as a result, even by their conservative estimate, designed to minimize the negative part of the proposal, the cost, they still go with estimates developed in conjunction with manufacturers and suppliers in excess of $500.

The big bummer for the carmakers is they won’t be able to bundle something relatively desirable into a $3000 “Technology” or “Security” package with a lot of other stuff that people would have been happy to do without.

I think they still will bundle them, but instead of it being optional, the list of standard features will increase.

The backup camera has kept me from running over the cat a couple of times. It is small enough that it is invisible to the driver. Before somebody else yells “persona responsibility!” I do check under the car before I start moving because the cat is stupid. However, even when I chase it off, it will usually run behind the car. I don’t know why it does this, but I really don’t want to have to explain to my kids that I ran over the cat, so I’m glad the backup camera is there. My method for dealing with the cat when using the second car, which does not have a backup camera, is to put out a treat to keep the cat busy long enough that I can get into the car and drive away before it runs behind the car. Damn, I might have just figured out why the cat keeps running behind the car. We’ve trained it to think that it might get a treat when it does so.

Now that vehicles are all nuclear fallout shelters with high beltlines and tiny DLO, no one can see out. Insurance companies become furious. Instead of raising premiums, they lobby to shift costs to the manufacturers. The NHTSA is happy to oblige because safety stats for certain types of crashes are on the rise. The manufacturers are even willing accomplices because they get protection from low cost competitors.

Now that we all drive around in tanks, the NHTSA has realized that run-off-road crashes were the real danger in the first place, but they keep armoring our vehicles because they don’t have the money to build barriers. Par for the course. Gotta look like you’re doing something, even if it’s pointless or counterproductive.

Seriously, calm down. It’s a fantastic feature that I wish my ST had. It’s a pain in the ass to see out of while backing up. It’s a pain in the ass to see out of just in front of the bumper so I’d be for a front facing camera as well.

If it keeps some of the turds from using my bumpers as indicators of when to pull forward / backwards while parallel parking it would be an added bonus.

Buy a better designed car that you can see out of. This is a feature for people that are incompetent.

Not really. This is a feature for people who would otherwise be run over by people that are incompetent.

@Astigmatism If incompetent people are backing over innocent “civilians”, what makes you think that they will have the competence to be able to properly use a camera backup system, and manually choose to stop when there is an object present?

Even NHTSA admits that the incompetents tend to ignore buzzer systems. What makes you or them think those incompetents are going to become educated by a TV camera? It isn’t going to be broadcasting Sesame Street, after all.

We are not discussing the merits of backup cameras. We are discussing the appropriateness of mandates.

LMFAO. Funny, I mentioned mandate in my first sentence. If you can’t read through the over-reaching sarcasm than allow me to expound on my sentiments regarding mandates:

Without mandates pertaining to vehicular safety, the death-rate per hundred million miles driven would be much higher than it is today as there wouldn’t be things like standard crumple zones, air bags, seat belts, stability control, ABS, etc etc etc.

And yet, whenever a new safety mandate is announced people are up in arms. The cognitive dissonance required to witness a reduction in deaths by nearly 20,000 people over the span of 33 years and still be upset about the mandate of new safety technology is mind boggling.

Safety equipment is effective when its success is not dependent upon the driver doing something well or better. Airbags, crumple zones, seat belts, etc. are all effective because they do not rely upon driver skill (although seat belts would be even more effective if more people would use them.)

Having a camera is one thing. Getting drivers to use it properly and effectively in order to save lives is quite another. Drivers can be expected to tune them out and otherwise not see what is on the screen — looking without seeing, or not looking at all.

Run-off-road accidents continue to drive fatality statistics regardless of the safety equipment we put on our cars. Backup cameras certainly won’t help.

Backup camera mandates are either pandering to the insurance lobby or they are backdoor protectionism.

@Timothy Do you really think it should be mandated if its designers estimate it will save only thirteen lives per year and cost upwards of a quarter of a billion dollars?

And with evidence that incompetents ignore backup buzzers, what makes you think they will respond to images to be able to achieve even those thirteen saved lives?

@TW5 However, the poor design and poor cost-benefit are good reasons to oppose mandates, although I agree there are many others, including on principle.

And on this site, it seems like people discuss whatever they want, and use whichever set of facts that seem to support their position best.

Even so, occasionally some actual facts that may not have been previously known, manage to escape out into the wild.

For example, I thought I had read that Cash for Clunkers required tradeins to be crushed, but after reading about how many people had gotten parts as a result, perhaps they were only required to be junk titled to get them off the road. I certainly hope so, as it would be much less wasteful.

But trying to define the scope of debate on this site appears to be like trying to herd cats. Or trying to nail jello to a tree.

I don’t mind govt mandates, but I prefer that they be the lowest hanging fruit. Cameras are good products, but they don’t have the benefit of saving lives, at least not compared to other govt mandated features.

If the goal really is to save lives, there are better, more effective places that money can go. That’s my main beef with the mandate.

I certainly see your point, but it raises the question, how much is a human life worth? Is it worth a mandate to save one life? 5 lives? How do ‘we’ decide?

I think that anything that can be done to make the process of backing up safer should be done. I couldn’t imagine the horror of backing over a young child as a parent. It’s almost too horrible to imagine but it does happen.

Would it change your opinion if the camera was connected to an autonomous breaking system? Would it then make sense to mandate this?

When you vastly misallocate resources, such as mandating a program that aspires to spend 21 million dollars for each life saved, you adversely affect society more greatly than would the loss of said life. This is one of the reasons that the government that governs least is the one that governs best. If you really think that our elected officials are making better decisions for you than you would make for yourself, you should probably not share your opinions with others.

Oh, I don’t think they’re making better decisions for me than I would… But they’re certainly making better decisions than some would.

In this case, automakers have decided that rear visibility should be “optional.” Is that a good decision?

In this case, you have legislators who ignored the safety experts who actually studied this stuff and understand it far better than a guy who went to law school in order to become a professional politician.

Politicians should not be making these kinds of decisions. They lack the expertise to make good choices. (While we’re at it, let’s get them out of the business of setting speed limits or monkeying with the timing of yellow lights at intersections; we have traffic engineers who are better qualified to do that.)

@Timothy I think it almost has to be connected to an autonomous braking system to have any chance of saving lives. And it also has to be able to be aware of everything from the front tires back, including objects that creep in from the side.

But this will raise other secondary issues. How do you prevent this system from becoming an aid to carjacking for example?

But part of the question should be, if the estimate is that at most thirteen lives a year will be saved, and there is no evidencce that the things that cause beeper systems to fail won’t cause camera systems to fail, can we find a more cost effective, greater life saving use for those 250 to 400 million dollars, or more, of cost?

But the autonomous braking concept is a good point, if other issues that could arise are addressable.

@Timothy And how do you think that’s going to happen? Mount big screen TV’s fore and aft showing a vertical view of bumper proximity? Have you been working on the NHTSA design for the backup camera system? I see some parallels…

And speaking of energy efficient light bulbs, I think they’re awesome, as long as they’re over 1600 lumen and have a Color Rendition Index over 87.

I make it a point to aim for at least 80 lumens per square foot in my home (i.e. Louis Vuitton-store bright), and it’s so much easier with CFL’s. I think I made the switch around 2004 when I tested a 23W/1600 lumen CFL against a 100W incandescent and they became good enough that I couldn’t tell the difference anymore.

I’ve mostly sat out the LED revolution, because nobody invented a 1600 lumen LED until last year. I looked enviously at the 45W/4900 lumen corn bulbs (Google it) that I saw in Vietnam, but I couldn’t find a 3000K version, plus it had a mediocre CRI of 70.

Backup cams are a popular feature, but they shouldn’t be mandated. There’s little evidence they’ll increase safety. The cost increase, however marginal, isn’t worth pushing onto consumers. There’s good reasons why the mandate has been pushed back, there’s little to justify it other than the NHTSA justifying themselves.

NHTSA has spent years dragging its feet, delaying the implementation of the program. Had NHTSA followed the required schedule, the cameras would be mandatory right now.

@Pch101 NHTSA is right to be skeptical about this. They are not stupid. Someone there recognizes that there is no evidence that incompetent drivers who ignore buzzers are going to be able to respond to camera input any better.

And yes, it was passed in 2007, during the Bush administration, but wasn’t at least one house of Congress contrrolled by the Democrats also? I don’t think this is so much a partisan issue as it is a pork barrel issue.

This project/mandate/legislation just needs someone bold enough to shout “The Emperor has no clothes! That dog won’t hunt!”

NHTSA opposed mandating these because the cost-benefit isn’t there. The legislators disregarded the research and mandated them anyway.

Backup cameras are “active safety” devices, and active safety devices don’t work. They only improve safety if drivers use them properly, and you can expect that they won’t.


They have to pretend. The mandate was a requirement imposed on the agency by the Congress and the president — the agency cannot openly defy either one.

Actions speak louder than words. NHTSA’s own research argued against the mandate. NHTSA was then about four years late complying with the mandate — the rules that it established in early 2014 should have been established by late 2010. (The law, passed in February 2008, gave NHTSA up to thirty months to develop the regulations.)

NHTSA was buying time for the industry. It was giving the OEMs more time to develop their future models with the cameras integrated into their design. Had NHTSA followed the law, the implementation costs would have surely been higher.

This is supposed to save 58 to 69 lives a year “once the entire on-road vehicle fleet is equipped with rear visibility systems meeting the requirements of today’s final rule.” The entire on-road vehicle fleet? In a declining country where a smaller percentage of people are new car customers every year? They’re either not going to save as many lives as city buses take every year, or they are planning on doing something about non-compliant existing vehicles.

Also remember that only ~300 people die from being backed over each year. So even if they were perfectly successful at saving life, they still would have little effect.

redav – unless you happen to be one of the 300. That is why people are such pizz poor judges of risk – they think there is little or no danger or it only happens to the other guy. By the time it happens to them, no learning takes place because they are dead.

@CJinSD They know they would never have been able to sell this program if they had started out to cover all the vehicles on the road, via retro-fits.

Some people thought I was being alarmist when I mentioned that the cost would be many times higher if they mandated retrofits.

I forgot to add that a lawsuit had been filed against the DOT. The case had been scheduled to go to the federal appeals court when NHTSA issued its rules. The agency had no choice.

@danio3834 NHTSA is nothing if not a political animal. And no matter how much they tried to draw in evidence that showed minimal benefit and great cost, they had to play the game their puppet masters, Congress, had commanded that they play.

To me, being experienced in the ways of inside the Beltway politics, and having been a seasoned Beltway bandit, the report smacks of “faint praise is damning.” YMMV.

@danio3834 Funny the study document estimated that the cameras would only save about thirteen lives out of the two hundred some deaths per year from this type of accident. But the press release left out that information, and simply mentioned the two hundred some deaths, as if the program would probably save them all. At least that is what they wanted you to think was going to happen.

I’m so relieved that parents will no longer have to worry about whether their children are behind cars.

Now maybe we can mandate batteries that can run mandatory air conditioning when the outside temperature is above 72, in order to prevent children from dying from heat exhaustion when their parents forget and leave them in their cars.

After all, that must be equally emotionally wrenching to those forgetful parents, so much so that no cost must be spared.

@danio3834 NHTSA did some really creative editing and data revision between their study that was one of the links in this discussion, and the picture that was presented in the Press Release in your link.

Gone was the $500+ cost, gone was the statement that although 300+ deaths per year occurred, the system was expected to save only perhaps 13 lives per year (just mentioned the number of deaths).

I suspect the original study took into account the probability of the people who are too stupid to check what is under the car or behind, are going to be too stupid to use and correctly interpret camera data.

But of course, we can’t put that in the press release, as it doesn’t support the idea that this is a good government program.

I shared a car with an excellent back up camera, one much better than many I’ve used. The other driver wasn’t comfortable using it and didn’t try to learn. I’ve heard this from other drivers of back up camera equipped cars too. I loved using the one we had that superimposed tracing lines showing where the wheels of the car would go when turned during parallel parking, until I discovered that it left a margin of error far larger than I ever need without electronic assistance.

Since the backup camera is still an active (not passive) safety device, I’m not sure how effective it will be. Without a radar connection to the brakes or an alarm, it’s just another window.

The only backup camera I’ve ever had is in my Leaf. It is rendered totally useless with the slightest rain or snow, particularly at night. I do use it occasionally when it’s clear, but just to avoid striking a wall or curb.

All the backup cameras in the world are gonna prevent accidents caused by drivers who cannot put down their damn phones for one second as they drive off or back up

Given the current design state of cars, wherein visibility in 2002 was excellent and by 2007 very compromised – I am pro-camera. Mine has a fish-eye nature about it, and shows the back of the car and the bumper location. There is an orange parking box which shows you where the back of the car will end up given your current steering choice, and also red/yellow/green to show when you definitely need to stop backing up, and if there’s anything in your way. It enables me to park more accurately, all the time.

Unlike Doug’s RR, the camera is illuminated at night by the reverse indicators, and it does a color adjustment automatically so everything doesn’t show red.

Even in a car with excellent visibility, you can’t see some small object on the ground from your window. A camera can. The only failing is really when it’s been very misty, and the lens is still wet when you need to reverse. Then it’s tricky.

Honda does the implementation well: great visibility, good day/night compensation (including being well-lit by the backup lights).

I am not opposed to safety that improves outcomes. Unfortunately, I don’t see much evidence that backup cameras are reducing backup accidents.

Partially because most safety systems that rely on humans to pay attention are usually limited in usefulness and also because many of the low end rear camera systems are useless.

What is needed is a system that can detect pedestrians and actually apply the brake. Probably too expensive for now but this is the only long term solution.

@Pch101 Since we already have autonomous vehicles, we damn well better already have automatic braking figured out. But I agree that it is the only hope to overcome the weakest link, the ignorant, incompetent or totally oblivious driver.

The camera could start flashing more than a winner segment on The Priced is Right, and some drivers would simply think “false alarm” if they even thought at all, and would simply proceed on…to someone else’s appointment with death.

I wonder how many backup related injuries and fatalities have been inflicted with cars already equipped with cameras?

In spite of cameras providing the added rear visibility, it’s still quite easy to miss something. Especially if that something is moving.

I haven’t heard any statistics showing that backup deaths have decreased over the last several years that cameras have been installed. Given the low rates that it occurs, that’s not unexpected.

CJisSD quotes a 58 to 69 people per year when fully implemented number, and the total number of deaths from backing up is around 300, so it’s reasonable to conclude that backup cameras will be in the 20% to 25% effectiveness range.

But I believe backup cameras & sensors are great for preventing scraps & bumps with other cars, trash cans, bicycles, etc. They still aren’t 100%, but that’s the benefit that should be advertised, not safety.

Nobody even looks cursorily at the obvious blind spot every car has, no matter how big the damn windows are.

When you back up, your eyes are a certain height off the ground, so your line of sight is through the rear window over the trunk and to some distance beyond the back of the car. You have not one whit of an idea what’s between that distant point and the back of your car, even in a BMW Bavaria, and to pretend otherwise is ridiculous.

If you feel the need to answer a technical question with an argument based on left/right politics of whether the government should mandate them or not, your priorities are seriously effed up.

It’s basic common sense, not whether you can’t think of anything but being perpetually in a rage and uproar about government, then take every opportunity whether on topic or not to rant about it from ridiculous position of zero merit, like the people who’ve never had a problem backing up because they have X-Ray eyes that can see through trunk lids.

Active safety doesn’t work. These fail the cost-benefit test because they operate on the principle that they will make people better drivers. But they won’t.

I don’t care if the cost/benefit per life saved is not there – I care much more about saving my insurance deductible from backing into something than I do about saving lives. Crap happens, having a cheap piece of tech in the car that makes it less likely that crap happens works for me.

I like the mandate because it means I can get a piece of $50 equipment that will be occasionally useful to me without buying a $950 option package. Which is what the backup camera/beepers on an M235i currently costs. If BMW raises the base price of the car by to cover it, so be it. I suspect the market is competitive enough that any price increases will be minimal.

The odds reduction is minor because drivers will fail to use and/or misuse the cameras and/or they won’t work properly during certain situations.

@Pch101 Strange to find you so clearly opposed to ill-advised government mandates on individuals here, and so adamantly in favor of them over individual conscience in another area, but nevertheless, in this case, you seem to clearly grasp the essence of this issue that easily seems to elude so many others. Glad to see it.

I just wish you could have attempted to justify your position on the other matter with more than just scorn and a two word mantra. But I am relieved to see that there is more to you than that.

Only a wingnut would attempt to insert a(nother feeble) defense of bigotry into a discussion of automotive electronics.

Discrimination against protected classes is illegal in the United States, as it should be. Get over it already.

@Pch101 I was merely trying to show you that I recognized that you had more of a brain than you showed in that other discussion, where your only argument was two words, Public Accommodation, and a stirring defense of heaping insults and scorn on those you disagree with.

Yet true to form, you want to try once more to be sure that you denigrate anyone who believes in the rights of individual conscience, and believes that they do not impose any harm or hardship on people who wish to buy what others do not wish to sell.

“like the people who’ve never had a problem backing up because they have X-Ray eyes that can see through trunk lids.”

@wmba You are right about the lack of visibility. But you are wrong to think that a camera is going to fix the documented problem of drivers who simply ignore such warning devices.

And you are also ignoring the part of the report where Mercedes-Benz said that although the effect was not large, it appeared that their vehicles with backup cams were involved in a higher rate of backup accidents than those that were not. And to the extent that that is unbiased data, it doesn’t matter WHY it is true, just THAT it is true.

Backup cameras are not going to give you total vision, perfect perception, instanteous reaction, and total immunity from distraction. And those are some, if not all, of the primary causes of backing accidents and deaths.

Personal responsibility is keeping your cat in the house or on a leash- and imparting the importance of this on your children. Personal responsibility would have been, back in the era before airbags were mandated by the government, choosing to buy an airbag equipped car or buying a more crashworthy car (Volvos and Mercedes of the era were expensive but the used ones were quite reasonably priced). I’m sincerely sorry for your chronic injury–nobody deserves pain like that–but don’t pin it on the government for not mandating something until after you were hurt. Personal responsibility is if YOU choose to buy a land barge (you’re free to make that choice and I say go right ahead) then to choose one with good visibility or else pay for the backup camera yourself. KISS principle isn’t making cameras 100% mandatory; KISS principle is making them 0% mandatory.

I’m not arguing the value of them for certain vehicles because I do agree they can be very useful tools, I’ve found them useful in some rental vehicles, and I could have benefitted greatly from them in other rental vehicles.

TPMS got mandated because a very small fringe of the population, who lacked personal responsibility, put as much effort into auto maintenance as household toaster maintenance. When I see some dummy cruising down the freeway with obviously low tires then I overtake them (they can crash behind me, I don’t care, just not in front of me). Now this stupid orange light in my car won’t go out because a $50 sensor (plus labor and tax) doesn’t work. Why doesn’t it work? Because I chose to use half a can of fix-a-flat to stop a slow leak and that gummed up the $50 sensor. The sensor didn’t tell me I had a slow leak, me paying attention to my 3,500lb steel missile told me I had a slow leak long before the stupid sensor would have told me I had a flat tire. And in my previous steel missile (no TPMS but mando airbags) I once scored a cat kill, because swerving for a small animal is personally irresponsible and at 1am that thing shouldn’t have been left out to roam anyway.

@JimC2 This old geezer is happy to have a land barge that has excellent visibility, no TPMS (sure hope that doesn’t fail you on inspection; I know it’s going to cost you when you buy new tires), and no ABS, plus a nice set of steel wheels and stiff swaybars.

And the car is even tight enough that I am able to swerve to miss the occasional midnight bunny, though I don’t fault you for splatting a wayward cat when you don’t feel you have another option.

And while everyone here is entitled to their own opinion on the subject, my nightly prayers often include thanking God for putting me in such a straightforward, well engineered, enjoyable driving machine.

And now I also include thanks for finding a rare, hard to find affordable tuner for my beast, and for getting to enjoy some beautiful weather two lane blacktop hard running yesterday, on my way back from the tune.

I had never heard of the song “Red Barchetta” before I came on this site, although I am somewhat of a Rush fan. But it is a perfect expression of the joy of man and machine in the open.

I am a bit too old, and with two too many close loved ones, to hoon a large British motorcycle these days, or a hot TBird SuperCoupe, but I sure do love ripping along in the Barchetta’s larger brother, the Tan Barca.

I am beginning to hate what automobiles are starting to turn into. Jack Baruth hit the nail on the head on his rant about all that is wrong with Ferrari, Lamborghini and Porsche.

One of my few regrets in life is that I am not a billionaire, and able to buy up all the old Panther tools, dies and stamping equipment, and do for the Panthers what the Japanese did for large British bikes.

I understand why people buy newer vehicles in spite of some of these impositions, but damn, I do really feel sorry for you sometimes.

And there is no need to feel sorry for this happy geezer, hooning down a road near you, as young today as I was decades ago (OK, at least in most departments, and the rest still aren’t that bad.)

This is one step away from having a camera pointing frontwards as well, and a 5 minute storage time for images from those cameras that are always on. So insurance companies can figure out who caused a particular accident.

As a careful and competent, if somewhat exuberant, driver, I would actually welcome that one, as long as proper privacy safeguards were implemented, and the data could only be used to resolve accident culpability.

A black box for cars, as long as the data wasn’t transmitted into global data collection databases, would be a good thing for resolving the problem of stupid drivers and driving.

I just want my Fifth Amendment rights if charged with speeding. If you didn’t see me speeding and clock me speeding, it didn’t happen. If I cause an accident, it is on me, and if you cause the accident, it is on you. Otherwise, no harm, no foul.

The American Constitution on wheels. The right to keep and bear down on big iron. Coupled with incontrovertible responsibility for failure to grant others their rights, including rights of way.

The thing about the spread of backup cameras right now is that, despite continuing threats to mandate them, they are NOT mandated yet. Their adoption is currently being driven at least partially by consumer demand. People WANT the cameras. They actually are much more effective when backing up than a rear view mirror. Particularly with today’s trends towards SUVs and slit-like rear windows.

I think the insurance companies are driving this (with the emphasis on “lives saved”) to reduce the number of claims due to back-up accidents – especially in parking lots where the camera gives you a good view of vehicles approaching from the sides – and especially if you’re a smaller car backing from between 2 Suburbans (or the like).

From the insurer’s standpoint, it’s all benefit and no cost. Even if they save next to nothing on claims, what they do save is free money to them.

After over one hundred replies, nobody has touched upon the safest solution of all: backing into all parking spots so that the front of your car faces out.

I’ve done this religiously since getting my license at 16; reversing into parking spots, driveways, and even my garage when living in a house with one.

When travelling through the US, I am Canadian, I often get snarky remarks from friends and family who watch me reverse into parking spots. Apparently such a technique is anathema to Americans. I’ve even heard it called “gangster parking” by Americans.

Reversing into a parking spot has many safety advantages. When approaching a parking spot you can clearly see if there is anyone or anything you might run over in the spot. You have right-of-way so that other traffic must accommodate you when parking.

Exiting a parking spot while facing outwards is exponentially safer. You have a clear view of everything around your car. If anything runs into your path it will clearly be seen before you hit it. Exiting itself is a one-step process. Put the car in drive and exit. Backing out of a parking spot requires a change in direction which takes more time while you don’t have the right-of-way.

Last week I bought a new vehicle, a CX-5 CUV. It was equipped with my first backup camera. As with most modern vehicles, the rear visibility is lacking.

Yet I only use the backup camera for a few things as I am always backing into my parking spots and use my mirrors extensively to do so.

The first is to ensure clearance to what is behind me at the end of the parking movement. Distance to walls, curbs, and other vehicles can be seen precisely. This is also handy when parallel parking, which I do almost daily.

The only other use for the backup camera is to ensure I am lined-up properly within my parking spot. I use it to confirm that I am well-centered and parallel to the lines of the parking spot after using my mirrors to do the same.

A backup camera should be a tool for parking finesse. Not parking safety. The tool behind the wheel should have enough skill to reverse into parking spots and not be dependent upon a camera-and-screen tool to park safely.

I will never understand why the vast majority of Americans loathe reversing into parking spots. American shopping malls and plazas are even designed with angled parking to prevent drivers from easily backing into parking spots.

Many more Canadians than Americans back into parking spots. It must be a cultural thing. I can’t even recall a single large Canadian mall or shopping plaza that I’ve visited which has angled parking spots.

The reason you don’t reverse into parking spots is to avoid backing over all the morons walking around in between the cars. Who, by the way, are pedestrians, and have the right of way over cars in NY State because the stupid clearly must be protected from Darwinism.

Not at all. Remember, you can’t see the idiot who just walked behind your car. And he doesn’t care, the law is going to give him the benefit of the doubt.

– google backing in versus backing out……. backing out of a stall is considerably more dangerous. When you back into a stall the vehicles on both sides and behind you are stationary. You can easily judge depth and proximity. The stationary vehicles also limit pedestrian traffic. I’ve never had an issue spotting a pedestrian while backing in.

When you back out of a stall you have limited visibility, larger vehicles block your view, and vehicles are more likely to be moving.

The only place “backing in” is an issue is if you happen to frequent a “gay” park. I read a story about it and “baking in” meant……..well………. you wanted to get backed in too ;)

I don’t have limited visibility when backing out. Know why? I have a camera. There’s also fewer things to hit when backing out, as opposed to backing in.

@npaladin You can’t see who just walked in back of your car when you back out, either, or at least not anymore, and probably less, than when backing in to a spot you just drove by and saw.

You have the right of way when backing up? Unless you’re in a fire engine returning to the station that’s a new one on me. The one Canadian authority I could find on the web says that cars in reverse must yield to cars going forward.

When I park my car in a lot it’s always in some far-off unused corner where I can avoid door dings, so I can always drive through and be parked facing out. But if you’re parking at a Costco or other grocery store it’s a pain to try to get the cart through or carry all the bags [assuming the groceries are in bags] between cars to load the back.

@krhodes1 The king of nanny states demands uniformity. You WILL NOT attempt to gain an edge by trying to be clever. We will cut you down to size if you do. All animals must be equal, it is just that some animals are more equal than others.

I love the amount of per capita intelligence there is in the Massachusetts area, but loathe the lockstep conformity mindset that also prevails there.

Weirdly, there are a number of parking lots I have been in where reverse in parking is explicitly banned. I see this most often in Massachusetts, but I have seen it in other places too. I have no idea why. You will get a ticket for it too.

krhodes1 – the pulp mills in my region have a rule that employees must back into parking stall. That is based on the premise that if there is a toxic chemical leak evacuation is quicker and easier. I’ve been told that many motels do not allow backing into stalls because of exhaust pipes are generally at the back of a vehicle.

I do that, when the situation allows for it. But most people aren’t comfortable (and some aren’t competent) backing the car into a relatively tight space. It’s easier for them to back out into an unrestricted space.

Also, pulling opposite and then backing in puts you in the way of oncoming traffic longer than simply pulling in. And when you make your initial turn away from your target, people assume you’ve pointed the front of the car towards the sport you intend to take. The reverse can be surprising.

There are advantages to it, as you say, but it’s something you’ve got to think about carefully to do it safely. Of course, what part of driving isn’t something you should think about carefully to do safely?

KixStart – true. I had a person take my stall as I was backing into it. she was completely oblivious. Fortunately there was a stall open 1 car over. I did point out to her as she got out that she had taken my spot. Much to my surprise she offered to move.

My dad had a similar problem once when he was swapping vehicles with me. A guy took his spot and my dad politely told him what he was doing. The guy told him to “f^ck off”. My dad grabbed a chain out the back of his truck and told the guy to move his car or he’d drag it out of the way…… To make a long story short, the guy moved his car.

@VooX You are hanging out with the wrong Americans. I have been doing that all my life, and all my highly intelligent friends with equally bad attitudes towards conformity do the same.

But help me with one thing. You said “When traveling through the US, I am Canadian…” Just out of curiousity, what are you when you are not traveling through the US. That does sound a little “gangster” to me, too.

PS I’ll bet you execute the maneuver by holding the steering wheel with one hand, and looking over your shoulder, as well as looking towards the front of the car, while backing in.

It is not only the safest and best way to park, it gives you a decent amount of style points, especially with ladies, which is what is probably arousing the animosity of the narrow-minded spoilsport Americans you have had the misfortune to be saddled with as friends.

Screw them. Let me also teach you “the gangster lean”, executed when you are cruising at moderate speeds, especially in the city.

Slide your rear end slightly towards the centerline, steer with only your left hand resting on the top of the wheel, while leaning over to the right at about a fifteen to twenty degree angle from vertical, so as to be nearly looking down the centerline of the hood.

Continue to do so for as long as you aren’t uncomfortable, or until you spot what John Belushi called “rollers” in the Blues Brothers movie.

This way your friends will never have to accuse you of driving like a gangster again. They will be convinced, and will be scared to get on your wrong side, which is better than having them give you a hard time.

PPS My DD car was “born” in the St. Thomas Assembly plant, on October 3, 1997, in St. Thomas, Ontario. Canadian Grand Marquis Mercurys rule. One of the best “American” RWD body on frame V8 sedans ever made.

Check to make sure that nothing’s in front of the car, get in, drive out (I use remote start to get the oil flowing by the time I open the door).

I absolutely oppose mandating them. I can see a need on certain vehicles but not all. Make it optional. I shouldn’t have to pay extra for it up front much as well as have yet another system to break down and need fixing. Plus they are rather unsightly.

This is a bizarre issue to get worked up over, all the more so given that most of those screaming about it in the comments above drive old cars and won’t have to worry about this “problem” for years, if ever.

Every modern mandatory safety feature, including side-view mirrors, was once optional. Insisting that no further development is required (or positing the far more restrictive and expensive solution of greenhouse regulation) smacks of angry seniors who cannot comprehend a society whose expectations and desires differ from theirs.

Where does the reactionary absurdity end? Direct injection? I don’t want to pay for that!!! Airbags? No sir! Air conditioning? Who am I, Croesus?

Skinflints can always buy used. And in a few years, when any theoretical extra cost a backup camera adds has depreciated to $0, they can pick one up. If the feature still upsets them, they don’t have to use it. But I’d bet most will.

I’ve already had a car and drive a pickup with backup cameras and I’m opposed to mandating them. Nobody should have to pay for what they don’t want, and your post is proof that there are people silly enough to take false comfort from a borderline useless feature pushed as a safety innovation.

The people that opposed the first mandated airbags were proven right: they killed short drivers and small, belted front seat passengers alike. The people that took a wait and see approach to direct injection were right: the early adopting brands produced maintenance headaches in their haste to have something to advertise to the ignorant. Air conditioning? I wouldn’t have a car without it, but people that live in cool, dry places shouldn’t have to pay for it. The seals dry out from disuse, and then the coolant escapes into the precious atmosphere. Meanwhile they’re wasting more fuel than DI saves by carrying it around. Maybe you should back off of your superiors.

Disagree with that too many small Children have either been killed or injured in a driveway, when they dart out, and are the way of a reversing vehicle

Are you new here? We get worked up over all kinds of things. This is nothing. You should have read the comments after the article about the woman videotaping the pickup truck that was tailgating her. Yowza!

You’ve got some writing skills. If you’re not new and I’ve been overlooking your posts, shame on me. Keep it coming.

@genuineleather I looked up the definition of “young whippersnapper” in the dictionary, and found your picture next to it.

I do not drive an older car because I cannot afford a newer one, but because my older one is a far better and more reliable all around car.

I have never been opposed to any of the other modern safety features you mention, in a misshapen attempt to make an ill-conceived point. I love my power-driven side rearview mirrors. I will probably upgrade to an autodimming inside rear view mirror with a compass and thermometer built in.

I am opposed to “greenhouse” regulation, as much as I am opposed to mandatory backup cameras as a way to solve the backup accidents and deaths problem. I am NOT opposed to offering or use of them, just to the mandating them, where the study showed that some drivers ignored audible backup warnings, and where they assumed, without any study or evidence, that those same drivers would be able to spot images better than hear sounds, and would respond better to them. And I am opposed to spending at least a quarter of a billion dollars, their estimate, to save thirteen lives (20 million per life; can’t you think of a better way to save one or more lives with that kind of money?).

And I am opposed to a system design that depends on a camera when it has blind spots, and the little bit of real world data that there is suggests that cars with rear view cameras are involved in more, not less, backing accidents.

My V8 motor has overhead camshafts on each bank, a rarity in American cars. If it had existed sooner, and had the kinks ironed out of it, I would welcome direct injection, AS AN OPTION, not as a mandate. I have liked fuel injection, though I can and have also set up carburetors, a nearly lost art. I have owned vehicles with part and fulltime AWD. I have owned a vehicle with a turbo.

I am glad there are front and side airbags both for myself and my loved ones when they are riding shotgun for me.

I am not Croesus; my wealth does not consist of gold. It consists of the experiences I have had, and continue to have, and the friends and loved ones I have. I have made good money over my life while maintaining a lot of independence, and have managed to hang on to a decent amount of it into retirement, although I lived for the moment when younger.

I have a great wife and life companion who has been at my side and been my best friend for a quarter of a century, after two decades of being a party animal. We have a great son who is bright, resourceful, a good athlete, has good character and judgment, and a better and kinder heart than I do. They are both part of my riches.

But I digress…I am anything but a skinflint. I still share with others when I can, even those I do not know well, or who are less fortunate than me.

But when I bought my car, it was a plus that it had neither ABS (as I know how to brake properly and more efficiently than ABS, especially in severe weather conditions), nor a traction lock rear end. I can still drive two tons of steel like it is a sports car. In fact, in my experienced hands, it is a sports car, especially now that this “anti-modern skinflint” just picked up a tuner and a tune for the grown man’s toy.

And just like I chose to bypass ABS and traction lock, and not just because of cost or possible failure, so will I try to avoid a backup camera (a distraction and a trainer of bad habits and careless irresponsible driving), and TPMS tires, though I will defend to the death your right to buy as many of them as you want.

Just don’t try to make me have to buy what has no value to me…innovative useful technology does; nanny baby-sitting offsets to carelessnes and/or lack of personal responsibility, and tools to assist those, are anathema to me.

So keep on rolling with your idea that you know more than what you think are your more ignorant, and less well-off elders. But it will be you who will be poor, in so many ways: knowledge of what technologies are truly beneficial and what ones are not; how to get more out a car with less of certain technologies; how some of us may have acquired more than you will ever imagine, both material and non-materially…

I could go on. But I think it would be better if I let you go on, and spend your time in the school of hard knocks.

But if you underestimate me when and if we meet on the road, I hope you bring something fairly decent, or I will blow your doors in, and leave you embarrassed in the dust, as I roll off into the sunset, towards the ones I love, the ones who know what I know and know who I am.

Skinflint angry senior, my ass. Senior, especially to you, yes. Angry, only about your ignorance coupled with unjustified disrespect. Skinflint: 180 degrees out of phase.

Run along now. You have a lot still to learn, and not as much time to learn it as you may think you do.

And you are a particularly arrogant twerp, as evidenced by your attitude, comments and opinions, so the road is going to be twice as hard for you.

In spite of it all, I wish you well. You are surely going to need it, for you are at best a one-eyed man in a land where you are surrounded by others who have a good degree of depth perception.

The backup camera on my Prius is next to worthless. First if I’m looking at it I can’t effectively see the sides of my car to see if someone is walking or riding a bicycle across the path of the car (for example when backing out of a parking spot or crossing a sidewalk into the street.) Second, there are no lines to indicate distance so I have no idea how close I am to anything. Finally, I live on a dirt road and it only takes one or two trips down the road to cover the lens and lower the visibility to next to nothing.

But given that government proposals almost always underestimate final costs, $1,000 is probably going to be more like it in the end.

@PandaBear I stand corrected. That was the study estimate. The new press release estimate is much lower.

But it should be noted that they totally failed to mention the estimates of number of lives that would be saved, and only talked about the number of people who die from those accidents.

The study felt that due to drivers still not correctly using the warning data, coupled with the fact that the existing fleet would not have the cameras, would result in only a small portion of those deaths being eliminated by these camera systems. The reasons are my best guess, but their estimate was only about 13 lives saved per year.

I like ’em because I remove any RVM that can’t be adjusted completely out of my sightline. My state’s DOT wording on the subject arguably supports this but nobody ever notices anyway :-)

I fully support this safety improvement. No matter how careful a driver is, it’s still all too easy for a small child (or animal) to get into a vehicle’s rear blind spot. Costs have come down so much that the incremental expense of a camera is negligible.

It will likely or at least possibly increase backup accidents (Mercedes Benz data); will not solve the problem of people ignoring audible sensor data by presenting them with a picture instead; will not cover all of the blind spots; even if it does cause those who ignore audibles to respond to visuals, it is estimated to only save about 13 lives a year, only about 5% of such deaths; and cost at least 2 million dollars per theoretically saveable life.

I would not depend on such a system to save a mouse’s life, much less my child or my animal. I would make sure they were secured out of the way of the driveway before I backed out.

And I am sure society can save more lives by investing the total estimated (and probably lowball) cost of between 250 and 400 million dollars. And still, no one will be prevented from having such a system that wants to buy one.

I have to believe we could save a hell of a lot of lives with that kind of money, either with medical research, through better nutrition for the poor, or even by better weaponry and armor for the military, than we are going to save with a system it has been shown some people don’t respond to now, just because we give them a picture instead of a sound.

Please learn not to rush to support things that only sound good, without first investigating the facts, and then doing some careful analysis.

I have one car with parking sensors and one with a reversing camera. I prefer the sensors. I do not have to be looking at the screen and the audible warning results in me immediately braking. Even the front ones detect high kerbs, dogs etc which I cant see.

Read this and weep, for your blindness to the obvious truth just offered to you by Mr. @Spike_in_Brisbane who has offered us one hell of a good data point about how careless drivers are going to do with cameras, if they don’t respond to sensors in the way that Spike does.

If sensors can’t stop carelessly caused backup deaths, cameras will not prevent those same deaths, either. It is just that simple.

Backup cameras wouldn’t be necessary if car companies made cars with enough rear visibility to use the rear view mirror like we have for the last 100 years. Th trend toward bulky pseudo trucks with the exterior visibility of pillboxes has driven this.

“Backup cameras wouldn’t be necessary if car consumers wouldn’t buy cars with crappy rear visibility”

Backup cams won’t just be for backing up. They’ll be used for accident recording data in the blackbox. When cars are able to communicate with each other…they’ll also be used to record you! Think that’s far-fetched…think again!

+1. I wonder if cameras (around one’s car) will become an effective legal tool for those (mostly safe) drivers to use against the degenerate 10% of road menaces.

Given A) (stupid) regulations that are crushing visibility in all vehicle classes AND B) falling price of electronics the market will push manufacturers to have (in ~3 years?) cameras into almost all new vehicles.

I’m concerned about states mandating that these cameras function in order to pass an inspection. Fixing and diagnosing dated electrical gremlins in a 7 year old vehicle can get expensive.

So the iihs did a blind study of average American drivers with backup cameras (the drivers were “blind” in that they didn’t know the study was about camera user efficacy, not blind literally). I think something like 50% of the drivers ran over the simulated children.

To me, the problem with backup cameras is that the screen is in front of you, away from where you should have your head pointed while reversing. Cameras are great, but peripheral vision is better.

A better solution for suv/minivan drivers is to get a convex trailer hitch mirror that sits high on your rear window and shows everything within 5′ of your rear bumper. That way you still have to twist your torso around to get your head looking aft, but with enhanced visibility. The USPS uses such devices on many of their grand caravan vehicles in Virginia. If it works for the hourly successful postal service, why can’t it work for the rest of us?

You’ll never see those mirrors on production vehicles, because they’d likely shave off half a mile per gallon at highway speeds. Not a concern for postal minivans, which sit idle half the time anyway, but a dealbreaker for CAFE.

Modern technology is a marvelous thing. A considerable amount of my disposable income goes to technology marvels.

A desirable technology sells in abundance. Do we need a federal mandate to force everyone to buy an iPhone 6? Empirical evidence indicates that we do not.

Once again, I have to point out that such a mandate will only occur to enrich someone, and it’s NOT you.

There is not one iota of evidence that careless drivers will be more responsive to video images than they have proven (not) to be towards sensor audibles. And there is some manufacturer data that backup cameras tend to cause a slight increase in backup accidents.

The more I consider the way in which this topic was originally presented by DeMuro, the more I become convinced that the structure of his article, and the position he took, are nothing but deliberate trolls designed to gin up a lot of clicks, a lot of debate, and a lot of pageviews, towards the ultimate end of increasing ad revenue, and establishing himself as a shaker and a mover at TTAC.

I happen to know a bit about journalistic ethics, having been involved in part of the training of journalism students at a noted four year college in another lifetime.

And I have to question whether he could have even glanced at the report and done even a cursory analysis of the arguments being made for the mandate, and concluded that he was for this FUBAR’d product of a misguided Congress.

I would want the authors I read and follow on a regular basis to inform me, not inflame me, with unsupportable support of a very poorly designed and ill thought out and ill supported system.

I am not trying to stir up a popularity contest, but when I read a Jack Baruth piece, I know I am getting his honest and thought out opinion, whether I agree with it or not. And this causes me to examine my own beliefs, and sharpen my own arguments for or against his, and to join or oppose his conclusions, as a result of the informed introduction to whatever topic he has given me.

But at the risk of being banned, I have to say that I felt like I was deliberately misled, and fed a deliberately inflammatory and unsupported claim that this mandate was good, and should be accepted and supported, as he said he would.

If that is writing, or reporting, then I want a job here, too, and at least a chance to be a formal counterpoinnt to such blatant attempts to simply stir up controversy.

Are you listening, @Ronnie Schrieber ? The idea is not as crazy or as self-centered or deluded as it might at first appear. Several people on this thread, as well as on another controversial one, complimented me on the points I made and the way I made them, and one one regular even said that one of my posts should have been its own article.

And while I doubt I, or anyone, could serve up such a high octane racing fuel style of automotive journalism as Jack does, a heady blend of Ernest Hemingway, Hunter Thompson, Tom Wolfe and a handful of other literary giants, I DO believe I can and would deliver some honest automotive journalism, marked in part by careful analysis and presentation of the facts behind the news.

At first I couldn’t decide if I should just drift off of this site, and go back to looking for obscure horsepower and torque mods for my Panther, only to drift back here occasionally just to see what Jack had written. Or should I attack what I feel is not right head on, take the bull by the horns, so to speak, and attempt to offer another perspective.

And true to my form, I decided I’d just do my forum cruising on a reduced schedule, and try to bring something else to this, and other issues, especially, but not limited to, regulation affecting the auto world, such as the backup camera mandate status, trends towards E85 and its effect in the real world, the real lowdown on alternate propulsion vehicles, and such things as how temperature and charging station availability will affect the way you will really be able to use them.

Then there are questions about hydrogen cell technology…where is it at now, and will it ever become feasible? Can it overtake electric?

Maybe, if I’m lucky, some seat of the pants impressions of cars via test drives. Some interviews with major figures in the auto world, maybe Allen Mullaly of Ford, ask him some questions that are on many of your minds about his Lincoln strategy. Elon Musk, and what scientific and engineering data, vs. just running scared, he might have concerning hydrogen cell transportation. I’d like to see an article on the latest directions for Harley Davidson. One with someone from NASCAR on why they now insist on such uniformity and whether they don’t believe more of an old school, run what you brung, maker vs. maker, style of racing might not bring more excitement.

Maybe an interview with Joe Gibbs, discussing how his life changed after he left racing to coach and then returned to racing, why and what he learned.

Pieces on life on a small to medium sized racing team, not only in some of the categories such as NASA and LeMons which are already done well, but perhaps trends in drag cars, life in quarter midget racing, for example, the economics, what life is like in it, what technologies are used. Maybe what it would cost to get into it.

So many more things about cars besides road tests of Lincolns and Buicks. Not that I would want to see them disappear, but I would want more about some of the niches of cars, not just the manufacturing game.

My best friend accidentally met an old guy who was on the team that supported the Indian motorcycle land speed record documented in the movie the Last Indian, and they became friends. And the guy has tons of memorabilia, and memories, of what those times were like.

How about an article about people who build and display modest affordable show cars, and not just the Hemmings big buck auction type concours cars.

I’ve got a million of them, not literally, but I would bet I could find enough stuff that isn’t currently being done, here or anywhere, if the people on this site wanted it, and the people who ran this site wanted to back me in doing it.

OR…I could just shuffle off to Buffalo, in search of some affordable part to either restore my Panther a bit, or inexpensively mod a few momre horsepower out of it, and try to get some at least moderately surprising times out of it, while keeping its stock look, and just come on here once in a while, and just read and hardly comment, except when something just BEGS to have BS called on it, as I believe was the case here.

So this is my shameless plug for a chance to be given a chance to do more here. If you could get into it, I will try to sell it to management, with the support of some of you.

Or if not, it’s not like I don’t have anything to do. It’s not so much that I retired, as that I was liberated from a lucrative profession into a free to be me one.

So let me know, and in either case, I’ll be still be around from time to time, though if I am not drafted to serve, I’m going to try to resist the urge to get sucked into discussions about seeming motherhood and apple pie, but that are so full of holes you couldn’t drink water from them.

VolandoBajo – Some writers just happen to be better at stimulating debate without being “just clickbate”.

I’m all for a spirited discussion because one learns much more from exchanging opinions with those whom do not agree with you. If one only associates with “yes men” you end up like Michael Jackson.

I always felt they were pretty gimmicky and unnecessary for anything smaller than a minivan/truck/SUV, however after having my 2013 Civic Si sedan, I’ve actually grown to really like the back-up camera.

I never really had issues parallel parking without the camera, but now that I have it, its made the process much quicker and I park with greater confidence. I don’t have the model with the navigation unit, so I don’t have the multi-angle function, but honestly, what I have works just fine for me.

While I do think there is something to be said about too many ‘nanny devices’ in cars, bad drivers are always going to be bad drivers, so if a back up camera prevents one of those drivers from hitting my car while parking, it’s worth it.

My bigger concern is that if it becomes mandatory standard equipment, where automakers are going to cut corners elsewhere. Thankfully, Honda’s interiors as of late have been pretty high quality (sans the 2012 Civic, which was a disaster inside).

Wow, 355 comments, you won the internet, Ronnie! I just wonder how VolandoBajo had the time to write so many of them (one third?) and the length of most of them.

@210Delray I was able to because first, I was motivated to, because this is more about the legitimacy and efficacy of government mandates in general (yes, some are good, but not all), and also about what “Truth About” the camera program there might be, such as changing estimates of costs, estimates of lives saved being left out of press releases, emphasizing all lives lost instead, etc, etc.

And I happen to be semi-retired but mentally alert and active, (over active, I’m sure some would say). And I had a bit of time to more or less kill (outside my normal daily life) because my wife had foot surgery, and only needed my care for parts of each day, sleeping most of the rest.

Also, I had several days between the time I located a used tuner for my Grand Marquis and the point at which I would be able to hit the road for a half day to buy it and install a tune. And if I hadn’t done something like this to take my mind off of how anxious I was to see what the tune would do to the Tan Panther, I probably would have been mindlessly scribbling doodles, or surfing youtube for repair or modding videos.

Finally, in the short time I have been reading TTAC, I have been impressed by the high quality of most of the writing, and the intelligent discourse most readers are able to offer.

There will always be a certain percentage of trolls, dolts and/or people who just don’t get it. But as much as I was striving to read up and comprehend what info was available about the program, I also learned more about it due to the interest of others, and their willingness to deal in reason and facts, rather than simply resorting to scornful dismissal of others who offered a viewpoint different from their own.

In high school, I used to be the one of extemporaneous debaters, the “clean up hitters” who had to deal with new topics and data on short notice and put coherent arguments together. Ours was a strong team, very much due to the strength of my team members as a whole.

But I too pulled my weight, or I wouldn’t have gotten one of the extemp slots. And I haven’t had this much fun debating a topic since high school, which I can assure was not last year. Last century and last millenium are facts, even last decade is not.

I was a so-called “knowledge worker” for most of my career, but being semi-retired does not mean I want to spend my evenings and occasional insomniac nights polishing my golf clubs. In fact, I don’t have any clubs. And night time is not the best time to detail or work on my GM.

So this place has given me the opportunity to express my opinions on some topics I consider relatively important, and to do so in the company of, and with an audience of, for the most part, some above average co-readers and -writers.

But I doubt I will do more than drop an occasional one or two shot medium length posts most of the rest of the time, and then only if it is about something I have some first hand experience with, and think I can add something that hasn’t been advanced by anyone else.

As much as I can enjoy doing something like this from time to time (the last time was over the inappropriateness of posting spoilers on Youtube without warning others, a few months ago), I also strive to remember a slogan a guy I used to work with had on his office wall.

He was a former leader of a squadron of combat helicopters in Nam, an MOS (military occupational specialty) with an average life expectancy in combat measured in single digit minutes. Yet he was quick enough and smart enough to survive I think it was three tours while flying his own share of close air support missions.

As a former USMC “grunt”, I have great respect for two other military occupations, and one is medic/corpsman, and the other is the guys who would fly close air support for us.

And Jerry had on his wall “God, please help me to remember that not everything has to be said, and that not everything that has to be said, has to be said by me.”

By the time I met and worked with Jerry, it was getting harder and harder to find anyone who had anything of great wisdom that I had not heard before. But with Jerry, that was just one of them.

He was also the only client I ever encountered who not only accepted, but encouraged, the questioning of his strategies and the offering of alternate strategies. I suspect that might have been the secret of his survival in a nasty, brutish war. All wars are, but that one particularly so.

And it seems only the wisest and the most foolhardy, were the ones who were able to place themselves in positions of maximum risk, and still find a way to survive. And Jerry wasn’t foolhardy in the least.

So with that, I will start spending less time debating points on TTAC, and spend more time, especially during the summer, going to car shows, car meets, and car shops.

And maybe getting a chance to go see Baruth race, and perhaps even meet him and get to talk with him for a while. In my book, he is another one of those exceptionally intelligent, wise and ballsy people who make the world both a better and a more interesting place.

And in the end, after all the debate, and after the anti-mandate and anti-nannycam-to-protect-the-careless positions I took, I will probably look around to find a way to retrofit a proximity sensor on my Panther, one that will warn me of anything under ANY part of the car, or down low and near to the front.

I may even wire it up to have a (switchable) brake locking mechanism, though this may require me to go ABS. But I would welcome ABS also, if I could control when I had it one and when I wanted it off.

I envision my proposed system as having different sounds depending on object location, and differing volumes and/or beat frequencies, depending on the nearness to where the rubber meets the road.

And thanks to all of you who contributed something of intelligence, or of humor, whether I agreed with your position or not, and whether or not you feel justified to call names and heap scorn on others if they take a position contrary to the one you feel is the only right one (and you know who you are…I wasn’t the only one to tell you, on this site, though on a different topic, in the last thirty days).

And DeMuro, perhaps I was too harsh on you for not trying to expose the flaws in this approach. Perhaps you really just think it is an OK first approximation, something that is better than nothing. And you DID manage to get a lot of people to examine both the facts and their beliefs about this program, about other possible solutions to this problem, and about the government’s approach to mandating what I believe are all too often design standards, where performance standards would be more appropriate and beneficial.

Perhaps you may have even thought that this topic wouldn’t even arouse that much interest among the readership, though it clearly did.

If nothing else, you provided me with a few hours of intellectual stimulation during hours I could neither sleep, tune my Panther, or find anything any more interesting to read or write about.

Though I do find myself questioning, after the fact, if I could have found a more meaningful and/or enjoyable, use of my time, compared to here.

My jury is still out on that one…the debating committee in my head advances arguments on both sides.

And perhaps that is just as well. I think it was Kant, or one of those other “piss-aunt” philosophers, as Monty Python called them, who said that the ability to hold two conflicting ideas in one’s consciousness simultaneously was the mark of an intelligent person.

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Though it sometimes bothers me that that could also be the sign of a schizophrenic, paranoid or otherwise.

(And if your name begins with a “P”, the mere mention of black helicopters, which have been a topic of discussion, does not make one a believer in conspiracy theories. Nor does offering up a list of possible legitimate reasons for them make one necessarily overly-obsessed with them; it might just mean that they have some knowledge or experience of military operations and/or strategy. Try to broaden your imagination, and try to be a bit more neutral, if not charitable, in your interpretations of facts and/or conjectures offered by others. And I do sincerely apologize for tossing out the spurious comment about Prius batteries…it was just a cheap shot to see if you would yelp like most Prius owners, when anyone driving an SUV or V8, for example, ridicules the Prius as a transportation solution. It is a legitimate one, at least for some, although like all solutions, it has its limits. If I weren’t into having a last go round with a fun ride, and if I had to commute fifty to a hundred miles a day, I’d probably be pushing one, too. Hopefully only in a figurative sense. But the battery “shot across the bow” was just a needle. Sorry, I try not to stoop, but old habits sometimes die hard. My son tells me I should be less snarky when someone annoys me, and he is right. I grew up with a bunch of intelligent smart-asses as classmates, and it didn’t do much for my character, at least not in a positive way. Just made me quick to snap back when I thought someone richly deserved it. But in reality, I am neither elected to be a judge, or innocent enough to be able to cast a first, or even second, stone. And try to remember that you will gain more acceptance by recognizing the rights of others, even if they have not recognized yours, nor successfully asserted that the are of a protected class…they shouldn’t have to, freedom of religion was a cornerstone of why our country came into existence. And if you’re going to argue otherwise, you will never convince anyone, and will make the journey tougher for those you feel need protection, if you teach those who disagree with with nothing but scorn, contept and childish insults.)

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