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Transportation Government United States

Rear-View Cameras On Cars Could Become Mandatory In the US 754

Posted by timothy
from the phase-in-period dept.
According to the Los Angeles Times, "The federal government wants automakers to install back-up cameras in all new vehicles starting in late 2014. The plan, announced Friday, received a strong endorsement from insurance industry and other analysts and is likely to get some level of support from car manufacturers. ... The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that, on average, 292 fatalities and 18,000 injuries occur each year as a result of back-over crashes. The agency said children and the elderly were the most common victims. About 44% of the fatalities in such accidents are children and 33% are people over 70, it said. NHTSA said its proposal was designed to keep drivers from running over pedestrians who might be crossing behind their vehicles. It could also prevent parking-lot bumper thumpers. The camera systems show motorists what's behind them via a video display on the dashboard. They typically feature a bell or alarm that alerts the driver if an object is within the camera's field of view."
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Rear-View Cameras On Cars Could Become Mandatory In the US

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  • remarkable (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 04, 2010 @09:19PM (#34447086)
    • Reminds me of the NASA space pen allegory. But what really worries me is putting home theater center in dash. Is it just me or does it seem like little to no consideration is given to how many deaths are caused by driver distraction? Maybe I'm getting old too, but it seems like oncoming headlights have gotten way too bright when I'm driving. Don't even get me started on the giant blinking red billboard that reads "Buckle up for your safety." I wonder how many people look at the sign instead of the road

      • by trout007 (975317) on Saturday December 04, 2010 @10:06PM (#34447410)
        Of course you know the NASA space pen story is a myth. Fisher invented the pen on their own dime. Both NASA and the Russians used pencils before these pens were available. They went to these pens because broken graphite in zero G and pure oxygen can cause shorts in electronics and burn in a fire. http://www.snopes.com/business/genius/spacepen.asp [snopes.com]
      • by by (1706743) (1706744) on Saturday December 04, 2010 @10:44PM (#34447724)

        Maybe I'm getting old too, but it seems like oncoming headlights have gotten way too bright when I'm driving.

        In addition, I've noticed that some newer HID headlights seem to be more focused, which can make a car behind you going over speed bumps / potholes appear to be flashing its brights at you (with a more diffuse beam, this isn't an issue). This can certainly be distracting, especially driving an old car (when someone could very well be flashing their lights at you to let you know you've lost your running lights / your engine's billowing smoke / etc.).

      • by tompaulco (629533) on Sunday December 05, 2010 @01:25AM (#34448546) Homepage Journal
        Home Theater in the dash is illegal. Video viewable from the drivers seat is illegal.
        Rear view camera would probably be enabled only when you back up. That is how mine works anyway. The rest of the time, the display functions as my radio controls and/or my GPS. And the GPS controls are also not usable while driving. There is an override, so a passenger can use it, but the key sequence of the override is so complicated only a passenger could possibly enter it correctly.
        • by BlueStrat (756137) on Sunday December 05, 2010 @06:04AM (#34449500)

          Home Theater in the dash is illegal. Video viewable from the drivers seat is illegal.
          Rear view camera would probably be enabled only when you back up. That is how mine works anyway. The rest of the time, the display functions as my radio controls and/or my GPS. And the GPS controls are also not usable while driving. There is an override, so a passenger can use it, but the key sequence of the override is so complicated only a passenger could possibly enter it correctly.

          I wonder how many accidents will be caused by lost people traveling alone with no easy/safe place to pull over, who attempt to enter the override code while driving anyways?

          For a hypothetical (yes, yes...I know) example, would a single mother, new to L.A. and lost in a bad area, stop to use the GPS while chatting with the group of bored gang members standing around nearby looking for entertainment, or try to override it to get out of there rather than risking passing the same gang's corner again?

          I wonder if the driver in this example could be successful in a lawsuit if she were to stop to use the GPS and then be attacked? Would it get a quick and silent settlement? Would/should she get a ticket regardless of the circumstances, and even if no harm occurred at all (she didn't wreck or swerve, and didn't stop to get attacked, but got pulled over)?

          Strat

    • Re:remarkable (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Edmund Blackadder (559735) on Saturday December 04, 2010 @10:32PM (#34447642)

      Well, first of all this is unrelated to the present article. This is about removing the blind which is diagonally back and to the side of the car. The article talks about removing a blind spot which is directly behind the car and results from the rear window being to high (which is a problem for almost all SUVs and minivans, as well as many types of cars).

      The reason why that mirror is illegal probably has to do with the distortion it causes. Distortion tends to make things seem a different distance than they are, so it is not certain a mirror like this would not cause more accidents. But the government should certainly investigate this.

      • Re:remarkable (Score:4, Interesting)

        by M. Baranczak (726671) on Saturday December 04, 2010 @10:44PM (#34447734)

        Not directly related. But the point is: the government wants to mandate an expensive, error-prone device to eliminate a tiny percentage of accidents, and at the same time they're not allowing a cheap and simple device that could have a much bigger impact.

        I don't buy the "distortion" argument. If that was such a problem, why do they have convex mirrors on the passenger side?

        • Re:remarkable (Score:5, Interesting)

          by node 3 (115640) on Saturday December 04, 2010 @11:40PM (#34448054)

          Not directly related. But the point is: the government wants to mandate an expensive, error-prone device to eliminate a tiny percentage of accidents, and at the same time they're not allowing a cheap and simple device that could have a much bigger impact.

          They aren't specifically "not allowing" the mirror AC linked to, they are not allowing non-flat mirrors due to distortion. This mirror didn't exist at the time the laws were being written and may very well be worthy of updating the law for.

          I don't buy the "distortion" argument. If that was such a problem, why do they have convex mirrors on the passenger side?

          Passenger side mirrors aren't even mandatory. The driver can generally get by just fine without them due to the ease of seeing out the windows on that side. The driver's side is much more difficult and error-prone. It's completely rational and consistent with the goals of safety to disallow non-flat mirrors on the driver's side, while allowing them on the passenger's side.

          Consider the phrase "objects in mirror may be closer than they appear" for a moment. Now apply that to the driver's side mirror which is used to determine whether or not it's safe to change lanes to the left. Having objects appear further than they really are is clearly something that should be at the top of the list of things such mirrors must not do.

      • Re:remarkable (Score:5, Interesting)

        by X0563511 (793323) on Sunday December 05, 2010 @01:20AM (#34448526) Homepage Journal

        ... and this 'solution' puts the camera screen in the dashboard - the opposite direction your head should be facing when you are backing up.

        Yea, this is going to make a big difference. Instead, people will look at the camera - gaining a clear rear-view, but losing the rear-side quarters instead...

    • by PPH (736903)

      The 'flat mirror' requirement would rule out a 'no side mirror' vehicle with cameras on both sides.

      A modded Honda Impact (for a high mileage contest) included the replacement of both side mirrors with small, low aerodynamic drag, cameras and LCD monitors just inside the side windows where drivers would expect to view the mirrors. According to the guy at the auto show I spoke to (sorry, can't find a link) the drag reduction is measurable at freeway speeds.

      captcha: illegal

    • Re:remarkable (Score:5, Informative)

      by demonlapin (527802) on Saturday December 04, 2010 @11:14PM (#34447916) Homepage Journal
      Seriously useful tip: your car has a nice, wide rearview mirror to let you see what's behind you. Adjust your side mirrors to show you your blind spots. I've done this for over a decade.

      To do so, start by adjusting the driver's side mirror. Lean over so that your head is just at the window sill. Adjust the driver's-side mirror so that it gives you the classic "just the edge of the car" view that most people use for their mirrors. Lean over to the passenger side so that your head is in the midline of the car, and then adjust the passenger-side mirror to show the classic view. You're done!

      It will look very strange when you first start driving this way, but you'll notice that as passing cars disappear from your rearview mirror, they appear in your side mirror, and as they disappear from your side mirror, they appear in your peripheral vision. Congrats! You no longer have a blind spot in your mirrors.
      • Re:remarkable (Score:4, Insightful)

        by ThePyro (645161) on Sunday December 05, 2010 @12:53AM (#34448406)

        Seriously useful tip: your car has a nice, wide rearview mirror to let you see what's behind you. Adjust your side mirrors to show you your blind spots. I've done this for over a decade.

        The proposed back-up cameras are not supposed to take the place of existing mirrors. Rather, they are installed closer to the ground so that you can see what's behind you at a lower level than what's typically visible with the rear-view mirror (ie small children).

      • by robot256 (1635039)
        I tried this once. At first I thought it was great. Then I realized that when I was being closely followed by a large vehicle I couldn't see any passing vehicles until they showed up in the side mirror, so I could not safely change lanes. That's why I went back to the straight back view (where the side of my car is just barely out of view). I can check my blind spot with a quick glance or lean, but I can't see around the SUV that's tailgating me without a mirror. And yes, I live near Washington DC, so t
      • Re:remarkable (Score:5, Informative)

        by Smauler (915644) on Sunday December 05, 2010 @01:28AM (#34448558)

        I'm a truck driver, so I'm very used to just relying upon my side mirrors only (I may be biased here). In my opinion, the rear view mirror in the car is a little bit of a crutch to help out people who don't know what the hell is behind them. The side mirrors are _the_ things you look at when reversing - the centre mirror is essentially useless.

        You can't eliminate blind spots... there will always be places you can't see. Basically, my advise is double check everything. Look at your mirror, then look over your shoulder. Look twice at everything.

        One thing that does piss me off is people walking directly behind my truck or van when I'm reversing somewhere. Seriously.... I know there's a person there, but I've got zero idea where the fuck they are. I'm not going to carry on reversing and hope that the person behind my truck knows to get out the way... 99.9% of the time they will understand the reversing, but there's that 0.1% where someone doesn't get it. So I have to get out and tell them...

        As an aside, I hate those signs saying stuff like "If you can't see my mirrors, I can't see you". They imply that if you can see the mirrors, then the driver can see you, which is absolutely not the case. Passenger side, turning in hard, trucks can't see anything in the mirrors. That's why cyclists should _never_ undertake trucks... I'm not talking about who is in the right or wrong, just about potential outcomes.

        Weirdly, I've just got loaned a BMW 120i, and have had it for 3 months or so, which I can't park for crap. I can't even reverse straight consistently, because of the crap mirrors... yup, honestly, I find reversing a 50 foot articulated truck more intuitive than this damn car. I look like a complete driving n00b :P

      • Seriously useful tip: your car has a nice, wide rearview mirror to let you see what's behind you.

        All car designs have a close-behind blind spot that no combination of side- and center-mounted mirrors can address (how far back it extends, and how high it extends, vary based on the height, width, body shape, window height, and other design features of the car.) This is a bigger problem with longer and higher vehicles (among "consumer" vehicles, large SUVs are notable in both categories, and thus particularly

    • by kimvette (919543)

      Saab has a neat solution for the passenger side mirror: the mirror is flat and then it turns convex at the outer edge to cover the typical passenger side blind spot. That could easily be done on the driver side if only the law would allow it.

      As far as the backup camera is concerned: nice idea but it's just one more piece of electronics that will break and be irreplaceable when the car is more than a couple years old.

    • Poster link is on a new rearview mirror shape that eliminates blind spots. However, you can already eliminate blind spots by using an alternative configuration for your mirrors:

      http://www.wikihow.com/Set-Rearview-Mirrors-to-Eliminate-Blind-Spots [wikihow.com]

      I've reconfigured my mirrors some months ago. It takes some getting used to as you cannot see the side of your car in the mirrors anymore, but this setup absolutely eliminates visibility problems when changing lanes etc.

  • Super (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nurb432 (527695)

    More Federal Government encroachment into our lives. Will they now ban all existing cars so we have to buy shiny new ones? "for the kids" of course.

    • Re:Super (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cayenne8 (626475) on Saturday December 04, 2010 @09:25PM (#34447124) Homepage Journal
      After this..mandate a camera in front and maybe one in the car.

      Then, once cameras are everywhere, how about a little storage of the videos.

      This coupled with the mandatory GPS units, etc would be just great for the insurance industry, and the govt...anyone that would like to see/monitor your driving habits.

      • by Haedrian (1676506)
        We still wouldn't be safe. What if you're carrying something dangerous in your car?

        Automated enhanced pat-downs!
    • by gman003 (1693318)
      TFA says nothing about making it a mandatory retrofit. Actually, it says nothing about old cars - the only requirement is a four-year phase-in of backup cameras on new cars, something I personally have no problem with.
    • Re:Super (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 04, 2010 @09:34PM (#34447206)

      Will they now ban all existing cars so we have to buy shiny new ones?

      No. About twenty years ago they issued a similar mandate for a brake light at or near the bottom of the back windshield (before that, almost no cars had them). The automakers said fine, give us 6-9 months to integrate it into our designs and manufacturing process, the government said OK and that was that. Probably has helped prevent a lot of rear-end collisions, especially on the highway when cars stop suddenly for an obstruction. At any rate, clearly a good bang for the buck. The older cars w/o the extra light were grandfathered and have gradually disappeared from the road.

      • The government should very well be allowed to mandate safety devices in cars. They help save lives often without a lot of cost. It also doesn't have to be all or nothing. You can require a feature on new cars and then slowly as wear and tear takes its natural course nearly all cars will have the feature. So the real questions are:

        1) What is it going to cost in a new car to implement? Real cost, not bullshit cost. How much will it actually raise the price for the consumer?

        2) What kinds of savings does it gen

      • Re:Super (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Darkness404 (1287218) on Saturday December 04, 2010 @10:21PM (#34447544)
        It is silly to compare the two. For one is the scope, how much does adding a few lights cost? Not much at all. What does adding in cameras, adding in LCD screens, adding in extra hardware to process it, etc. cost? A shitload more money. Secondly, you seem to have made the incorrect assumption that somehow car manufacturers don't add safety features when pressured by consumers. They do. All extra government regulation does it add in big bucks for a handful of "approved" suppliers while eliminating the competition in most cases.

        And as for the "bang for your buck" this is a pretty insignificant issue. Yes, 292 people lost per year to these things is tragic but it doesn't require massive costs. As for pedestrians, simply get away from cars that are backing up. It isn't that hard to see that a car is moving backwards and then move outside of its path. And what all does it add? We can't say that 292 people weren't seen by the driver had the driver been fully aware and the pedestrians using some basic common sense so we can't even eliminate that statistic. It is more government regulation with little to no true upside, will result in people relying on cameras or alarms rather than actually paying attention all the while we lose freedoms and money out of our pockets in both initial and maintenance costs, not to mention the potential for abuse.
    • by tnok85 (1434319)
      I'm not quite following this story. Could make a car analogy so I can understand?
    • Re:Super (Score:5, Informative)

      by bieber (998013) on Saturday December 04, 2010 @09:37PM (#34447222)
      This is nothing new...the federal government has been mandating safety features in cars for decades. Once seatbelts became available, they were mandated. Same deal for airbags. Now backup cameras are available, they're dirt cheap (relative to the cost of a new automobile, anyways), and they have the potential to save a lot of lives, not to mention property damage. And no, they won't ban all existing cars, just like they haven't banned cars from before the advent of seatbelts or airbags.

      Sorry, I know you really wanted to uncover some vast conspiracy between the government and the auto manufacturers, but this is just business as usual...
    • by mellon (7048)

      I think the rear-view camera is quite good at preventing certain kinds of accidents, although I'm still pretty paranoid about backing out of my driveway in town for fear of running down some poor tyke who's not being cautious enough. The problem is that *just* looking at the camera isn't enough. I don't know about mandating these things, but they definitely do make a difference.

      • Re:Super (Score:5, Informative)

        by Goetterdaemmerung (140496) on Saturday December 04, 2010 @10:16PM (#34447502)

        Why not simply mandate minimum rear visibility standards? Style has shrunk rear and side windows in many new cars. Sit in a car from the 90's or earlier and there is a huge improvement in rear visibility.

        • by Sir Holo (531007)
          It's not style, it's SUV protection. Their high bumpers tend to decapitate in T-bones. Thus, to meet side-impact NHTSA standards, your car is now a reinforced bathtub with very little visibility. But hey, you're safer!
  • by Baron_Yam (643147) on Saturday December 04, 2010 @09:21PM (#34447098)

    292 fatalities a year in a country of 300+ million, and they want to legislate mandatory backup cameras...

    If you legislate everyone be strapped to a medical exercise device and fed a perfectly balanced diet through a tube, everyone would be almost perfectly safe.

    • by Aquitaine (102097)

      Of course it's absurd. Just like a lot of the stuff that car companies are forced to do. It's tough, though, because in some cases, government mandates have resulted in improvements to safety and efficiency (in the technology, not in the political process) but this is a win-win on the bureaucratic side. The pols love it because they can say they protected your children, and the car companies love it because the requirements apply to everyone. Imagine if you made a widget and suddenly you had to add a $200 p

      • by ShakaUVM (157947) on Saturday December 04, 2010 @10:52PM (#34447780) Homepage Journal

        It's just a question of degrees though. When the government came in and mandated a small thing like seatbelts, they were (presumably) saving more than 200 lives a year, and not at a cost of $200/car. But there's no reason for anyone involved in this decision-making process to stop there.

        There's a core concept in decision making, called cost/benefit analysis, that our modern day society has completely forgotten. I mean this very seriously: Once you move from cost/benefit analysis decision making to Precautionary Principle decision making, you are officially insane, because you believe things that are contradictory. This applies (especially) to societies - if you refuse to make a decision because it has any con at all, you will be left with the status quo. This means that the Sierra Club and other Green groups, who oppose pretty much everything everywhere nowadays, are responsible for us being stuck with gas cars, coal burning power plants, and the ongoing destruction of our nation's food supply.

        Some examples:
        1) 10 kinda-sorta-endangered (threatened) desert tortoises are found near a new, environmentally happy C02-less solar plant in the Mojave. You might call it HELIOS-1 because you've played Fallout New Vegas, but this is a true story (it's actually in Ivanpah, which is a bit south of the HELIOS-1 plant in the game.) The company offered to relocate the tortoises at a cost of $100M. $10M per bloody tortoise. The Sierra Club and Senator Feinstein shut it down. Any downside whatsoever, even if the Pro column in the Green playbook is much bigger than the Con column, causes them to file lawsuits to shut it down.

        2) See any number of examples of Green groups shutting down nuclear power plants or stopping them from being built. The really amusing/frustrating irony is that they then say that nuclear isn't a viable option because they continually encounter delays and cost overruns due to, well, their own lawsuits. Even though the Pro side is very good on nuclear from a Green perspective, they still block it because they are too stupid to know the difference between Chernobyl-style positve feedback plants and modern negative feedback plants. Bonus points for stupidity: a Green group that chained themselves to a fence of a local nuclear plant to protest the CO2 emissions it was emitting.

        3) They're extending an interstate in North Carolina. 10 river snails on the Endangered Species List migrate up a branch of the river from their homeland downstream. The Endangered Species Act is our modern insanity codified into law - it doesn't matter how the Pro and Con balance works out, the new snail habitat must be protected. Even though rerouting the interstate will cost billions, add 10 minutes to every person's commute, and will cause untold extra car emissions to go into the atmosphere, it doesn't matter. We don't do cost/benefit analyses any more. They're going to reroute the interstate.

        4) A buddy of mine (PhD economics from the University of California) got a job working for Fanny Mae over the summer. He started doing a cost benefit analysis of the effect of the Community Reinvestment Act and similar policies on our housing market, and on the economy in general. The first thing that he found was that nobody had done this analysis before. In Fannie Mae, Fortune 100 company whose entire business is based on these sorts of things. Conclusion number 2, it was possible to codify the costs for each of the lowerings of housing standards congress (i.e. Barney Frank) mandated to Fannie Mae. They kept pushing standards lower until the whole system collapsed. Conclusion number 3: nobody was ever able to quantify the upside of home ownership. Why is it important for people to own homes instead of renting, if all else is held the same. What kind of dollar value can be assigned to owning instead of renting? The whole system was based on a nebulous upside, subsidized by the American taxpayer, and nobody could say why, precisely.

        Anyhow, going back to

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          1. http://solar.calfinder.com/blog/news/tortoises-relocated-ivanpah-solar/ Your facts appear to be in error.

          2. You think environmental impacts studies and lawsuits are what's keeping nuclear from being profitable enough to build? They're a fucking rounding error.

          Typical glibertarian bullshit.

          • by ShakaUVM (157947) on Sunday December 05, 2010 @06:18AM (#34449550) Homepage Journal

            Wrong site, dude. The original site was scrapped because of the tortoise. The second site was approved after they cut 100 acres of tortoise habitat out of the construction. And Greens still opposed it, due to incidental damage that might occur to the tortoises. Read the comments on your own link.

            Here's what you should read instead:
            http://greenenergyreporter.com/renewables/solar/green-on-green-brightsource-scraps-plans-for-mojave-desert-solar-farm/ [greenenergyreporter.com]

            >>You think environmental impacts studies and lawsuits are what's keeping nuclear from being profitable enough to build? They're a fucking rounding error.

            You're right, a 12 year delay due to lawsuits is a rounding error, but probably the other way than what you originally intended.

            I'm not even counting the cost of seismic retrofitting - if you think that protests, blockades, and lawsuits didn't cause Diablo Canyon's numbers to be blown the fuck out of the water between the time it was finished (1973) and licensed (1985), you're out of your fucking mind.

        • by 7-Vodka (195504) on Sunday December 05, 2010 @12:42AM (#34448348) Journal
          Well, the problem comes when you take the legal system and the 3 branches of government into account.

          Their powers aren't equally divided in favor of all the citizens. They are in the pockets of the corporate sector and at the whims of political moves when not superseded by the first. They also do not act in a logical and impartial manner.

          This leads to things like Phillip Morris killing people for profit for millions of years, because they did the cost/benefit analysis and realized that in reality they can get away with human life and suffering costing them many orders of magnitude LESS than they should, all because they have the power.

          The power to stop people in court with high powered attorneys. The power to get laws changed in their favor. The power to get CAPS put on damages.

          That's just one example, but it happens all the time. Monsanto did the same when they polluted entire counties out of existence. Those other guys did the same in MA as portrayed in the civil action movie. BP is doing it right now and did it when they chose to ignore safety procedures and also had dick Cheney help cut off safety legislation at the pass for them. Halliburton is doing it right now if you've ever watched the documentary GASLAND.

          The price of a human life and suffering becomes even smaller as you look internationally where the corporations wield more power. In fact, I'm willing to speculate that the price of human life and suffering in a cost benefit analysis is inversely correlated with corporate power to the point where corporate power is absolute and the price of a life approaches zero. This right here is the main reason corporations relocate abroad.

          In essence, your definition of sanity and cost/benefit analyses only works when there is equality and a free market. I propose that these conditions only occur in bubbles in the geopolitical economic landscape we find ourselves in and not at all in some nation states.

          • by 7-Vodka (195504)

            This leads to things like Phillip Morris killing people for profit for millions of years

            I meant decades :) They lied for decades.

    • It will probably end up adding $20 to the cost of an automobile costing tens of thousands, make the world a safer place, reduce nuisance collisions, make the next generation of drivers able to assume that they will be there where they expect them (no surprises)...

      How much did it cost to add dual circuit brakes to every car? How many deaths due to outright break failure per year would there be otherwise... I'd bet fewer than the back-overs.

      And maybe you'd like to save a few bucks and not have seat belts in y

      • by Idiomatick (976696) on Saturday December 04, 2010 @11:39PM (#34448050)
        I'd like them to focus on less obvious deaths. I bet you could spend a couple hundred grand in factories and save hundreds of lives (or 1000s of additional healthy years).

        There are cheaper ways to save lives. $20 * 8,000,000(cars sold per year) to save 300 * 50%? lives isn't exactly the best we can do. It puts the value of a saved human life at 1 million USD. Guarantee it can be done more cheaply. If saving lives were honestly the only factor then they'd have done a study on 'how to save lives cheaply' rather than one about cars. I bet subsidizing condoms would save more lives. I bet there are a million things that could be done for 1/1000th the cost.
        • by patniemeyer (444913) <pat@pat.net> on Sunday December 05, 2010 @12:40AM (#34448340) Homepage

          How much does it cost to add seat belts to a car design today? Essentially zero, because everyone designs for them from the start and the cost of the material is negligible compared to the car. The same will be true of the backup cameras. The cost of the silicon will go towards zero in production. It's just a matter of setting a standard so that everyone does it and people can come to expect it.

          Did you know that in 2012 all new cars are going to be required to include electronic stability control? (The horror!) What does that cost? Well, at this point it's basically some software... which probably makes it more expensive than the hardware due to patents, etc. But at some point that issue will go away and it will cost about zero to add to a car.

          Pat

          • You need a monitor to watch it on too... Either way it is less effective and more expensive than following trucks' lead and having a loud beeping noise.

            Also ... software scales pretty well. Lol...
        • You've assigned zero economic value to the avoided accidents in which somebody didn't die. These include both the medical cost and lost productivity of non-fatal pedestrian injuries, as well as the cost of the bumper-to-bumper physical damage. I'd bet that once that's included, you'd actually come out way ahead with this. Heck, bumper repair alone might be enough to make this work, depending on what the new backing-up accident rate becomes.

          That written, my bet is that the biggest problems facing pedestri

    • by chebucto (992517)

      This to me looks like its taking the general principle - drivers must be able to see behind them while backing up - and applying it to new technology. Rear-view and side mirrors are already legislated; why not this? It's an effective technological solution to the problem of blind spots.

      I understand your argument about degrees of risk, but in this case two things argue against it: the victims are primarily the very young, making their deaths more terrible and more costly to society. And, the technology only

  • by nurb432 (527695) on Saturday December 04, 2010 @09:22PM (#34447108) Homepage Journal

    Ban them, and no more problem.

    blah.

  • You cannot "outlaw" stupidity. Why not take it to the next level and put everyone in inflatable suits when they drive, pack them in egg cartons. If people would take more responsibility, they wouldn't be backing over the family dog, a skateboard, fire hydrants or their kids. You know what will happen if/when they put this into play. The first person that hits something while backing up will have a hoard of lawyers knocking down their door to file a class action lawsuit.
  • by Inf0phreak (627499) on Saturday December 04, 2010 @09:25PM (#34447132)
    ... that a company that manufactures cameras is on a lobbying spending spree?
  • by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Saturday December 04, 2010 @09:26PM (#34447136) Homepage

    Seems kinda stupid to me. Car makers overcharge for the things already. Consumer Reports just did some article about how big the blind spot in cars is and depending on model and driver height it varies between 6 and 150+ feet (for spotting a toddler).

    So how about either mandating a better view out the back of the car, or only requiring then on cars where the blindspot is over 15 feet for an average height person?

    Better ideas for cutting down on deaths: bigger bumpers, lower speed limit (like 45), tougher driving tests, taking away licenses more aggressively, mandating disc brakes (probably more effective at safety), or just some public safety commercial. Those would probably all be more effective at saving lives.

    • Seems kinda stupid to me. Car makers overcharge for the things already. Consumer Reports just did some article about how big the blind spot in cars is and depending on model and driver height it varies between 6 and 150+ feet (for spotting a toddler).

      So how about either mandating a better view out the back of the car, or only requiring then on cars where the blindspot is over 15 feet for an average height person?

      Better ideas for cutting down on deaths: bigger bumpers, lower speed limit (like 45), tougher driving tests, taking away licenses more aggressively, mandating disc brakes (probably more effective at safety), or just some public safety commercial. Those would probably all be more effective at saving lives.

      These are low speed accidents so the "better ideas" you propose won't help here. Mandating better field of view only gets you so far if a) people aren't looking, and b) someone who wasn't there when you looked walks out behind you.

      The problem is that neither infants or oldies get out of the way if they realize they are in danger, and the oldies only need to be knocked (or scared) off balance and a broken bone can turn fatal. While I think that regular parking sensors can alert drivers just fine, perhaps the

    • by Jose (15075)

      ...Better ideas for cutting down on deaths: bigger bumpers, lower speed limit (like 45), tougher driving tests, taking away licenses more aggressively, mandating disc brakes...

      I'm with ya on most of this...but yikes dude. If you need a speed limit of 45 when in REVERSE, I think you may be doing something wrong...

    • by Waccoon (1186667)

      Personally, I'd prefer that height adjustable seats be made standard. It shocks me how many cars have awful seats (including no lumbar support), no matter what the cost of the vehicle. I never realized how bad the seats are in a standard car until I got a Subaru WRX (a car with sport trim, but without the cramped interior and low seating position).

      bigger bumpers

      Or actual bumpers, instead of grills with a small hump at the bottom. Also, matching bumper heights across all vehicles sizes.

      Lower speed limit (like 45)

      I'm sure plenty of other people w

  • I've spent a lot of time driving a car with one of these cameras, and they're excellent, and relatively inexpensive. But they shouldn't be mandatory! Cars are already too complicated.

  • Already There (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Haedrian (1676506) on Saturday December 04, 2010 @09:28PM (#34447158)
    "proposal was designed to keep drivers from running over pedestrians who might be crossing behind their vehicles"

    Its called a rear-view mirror.

    Unless its a toddler or a VERY short person, having an image on your dashboard, or to your top will make no difference to whether you can see them or not. If your kid is small enough such that someone reversing his car can't see him - then s/he probably shouldn't be out on their own.
    • I know that I, for one, would use something like this for parallel parking as well... this seems like a pretty useful gadget to install right above the bumper so you see where the back of your car actually is.

  • There are a lot of these in Japan, but they're not mandatory; they're part of an upgrade package and use the screen that people use for the navigational GPS system. They're especially nice for backing up at night since the area behind you is illuminated and there's a grid overlaid on the view that adjusts itself when you move the steering wheel -- that way, you can see where your car is going a lot easier than you can by leaning out the window.

    On the other hand, most people I know who have this camera do
  • They typically feature a bell or alarm that alerts the driver if an object is within the camera's field of view.

    When, exactly, is NO object in the cameras field of view?

  • by BiggerIsBetter (682164) on Saturday December 04, 2010 @09:31PM (#34447188)

    Cameras aren't necessary - mildly enhancing the standard ultrasonic parking sensors would address this problem for a fraction of the cost.

  • by echucker (570962) on Saturday December 04, 2010 @09:40PM (#34447250) Homepage
    I watched my sister-in-law in a vehicle with a camera shortly after she bought it. She couldn't back up to save her ass, since she spent more time looking at the camera's feed then actually turning her head to look behind her. Took her three tries to back out of our neighbor's crowded driveway with no success. Then her sister's husband did it first try. He just looked out of the damned window. Newsflash - the camera has a limited field of view. The difference is that if you turn your head to look, you've probably got a better chance to see what may be outside of the camera angle, or moving into it.
    • by Stanislav_J (947290) on Saturday December 04, 2010 @10:14PM (#34447486)

      Newsflash - the camera has a limited field of view.

      Not to mention a 2-dimensional image (depth of field is important when driving) that is of a considerably reduced size compared to reality.

      She couldn't back up to save her ass, since she spent more time looking at the camera's feed then actually turning her head to look behind her.

      Many drivers will likely start to rely solely on the camera image, instead of using it as an adjunct to a brief walkaround check and the normal "real life" turn-your-head field of view. It may save some lives, but I fear other preventable backup accidents will happen due to overreliance on the camera. In general, I feel that a lot of safety technology, including things like airbags and ABS, lull some drivers into a false sense of security that leads them to be more careless, inattentive, or even reckless. These devices are all well-intentioned, and undoubtedly have saved some lives, but are counterproductive if the most critical part of the vehicle -- the driver -- relies on them to the exclusion of good old-fashioned common sense and care.

  • by Daltorak (122403) on Saturday December 04, 2010 @10:02PM (#34447366)

    I can think of one good use for rear-view cameras... dealing with tailgaters! Imagine being able to record some video of some primo dickbag in his BMW X5, angrily following five feet behind you at 50mph because you aren't willing to go significantly above the speed limit for him. The computer's technology can measure how far away the other car is and overlay it on the screen. Then, hit a button on your dashboard, it sends the video (with a capture of his license plate, if he's got one) off to the police and they mail him a ticket. If enough people catch the same person doing it, fuck'im, take his license away and force him to take the bus.

    On a more cheerful note, there is another use that Jeremy Clarkson recently suggested on Top Gear -- looking at pretty girls in the car behind you while sitting at a traffic light. Lech-o-matic!

    • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Saturday December 04, 2010 @11:08PM (#34447894) Homepage Journal

      I can think of one good use for rear-view cameras... dealing with tailgaters! Imagine being able to record some video of some primo dickbag in his BMW X5, angrily following five feet behind you at 50mph because you aren't willing to go significantly above the speed limit for him.

      Or you could just pull the fuck over and let him go by, and then both of you can experience what it's like to go as fast as you want without some asshole trying to ruin it.

      In California pulling over is required by law but only when people stack up behind you. So it's only when some dipshit like you is slowing down a whole BUNCH of people at once that they are legally obligated to pull over. Who cares if they want to go 5, 15, or 50 miles per hour faster than you? Why do you want them behind you anyway? I pull into a turnout at the least provocation, and if you had ever heard of a thing called the golden rule, you would too.

      Tailgating is seriously fucking stupid, but holding people up is seriously fucking lame.

  • STOP (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheUnknownOne (810624) on Saturday December 04, 2010 @10:12PM (#34447458)
    Stop mandating this crap. I don't want traction control in my car, I don't want more screens, I don't want want my car to drive itself, and I don't want my car to disable cellphones.

    I enjoy driving, and I drive a lot. My car is comfortable, gets good fuel economy (45-48MPG), has a manual transmission and drives like a car (not a golf cart). There are no screens (aside from the 1"x2" LCD clock and Odometer) and my speedometer and odometer have needles (so you can see how fast you're going out of your peripheral vision (is the needle straight up? I'm good)).

    I agree, there are some safety features that should be in all cars... Seat belts, and airbags are important. But back up cameras? 292 fatalities a year. This is insignificant, seeing as how there are about 40,000 automobile fatalities per year, 0.7%? More people likely die from just being poor drivers. Why doesn't the government require better driver education before issuing licenses? Why don't we require retesting at certain ages? (Do you really think that all of the people out there driving in their late 80s drive just as well as they did when they were 19?) I'm betting fixing these problems would save a lot more lives than making us have more crap in our car.

    If these cameras are mandatory, will they be included in states "safety" inspections? Will I be required to fix it if it breaks? If I swap out the stereo in my car for a different one, will I be required to reattach the camera?
  • by Dracolytch (714699) on Saturday December 04, 2010 @10:59PM (#34447836) Homepage

    Someone doesn't run over grandpa because he isn't visible enough, they run over grandpa because they ~aren't looking~ (small children may be another story, below the FOV when backing up). If someone isn't looking, this device isn't miraculously going to turn them into a good driver.

    Even if you could realize all the proposed lives saved, 292 deaths is less than 1% of automotive fatalities in a year (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_motor_vehicle_deaths_in_U.S._by_year [wikipedia.org]). Of course, automakers aren't going to fight this too much, since everyone has to play ball/raise prices, and having the in-dash monitor is an immediate point for feature up-sells such as GPS.

  • by NynexNinja (379583) on Saturday December 04, 2010 @11:14PM (#34447920)
    Instead of spending time on useless things like this, they should really focus on making it a legal requirement that cars drive themselves. I think more lives would be saved if human error was removed from the equation. They are talking about saving 292 lines per year? This is a drop in the bucket compared to the number of lives you would save if all cars drove by themselves. According to this link [census.gov], there are about 100,000 traffic fatalities per year... If you want to make a law, why not focus on ones that might halve the number of traffic fatalities... Saving 292 people who didnt look back when they were putting their car in reverse is such a random useless thing to talk about. Making a law to "fix" this "problem" is ridiculous. If cars were forced to drive by themselves, so many other problems would be solved. DUI would not exist, all the "using a cell phone while driving" laws would immediately become irrelevant.
  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Sunday December 05, 2010 @01:04AM (#34448454)

    If you're going to force us to have something installed on every single car made, why not a far simpler, cheaper backup system that they have on some cars already that beeps when you are backing up and get close to something, Aliens style? It will be ignored (or not) by as many people who would not be looking at a video screen either.

    If they install a mandatory backup camera and make me put a video screen in my dash, I swear I'm going to drive backwards everywhere I go and just drive by the screen.

  • by endus (698588) on Sunday December 05, 2010 @04:22AM (#34449208)

    You can bet that someone in congress is getting money from someone who manufactures backup cameras. Simple as that.

    • by snsh (968808)
      Car manufacturers probably make more money from "optional" cameras than mandatory ones. FTOA: "The rear-view camera system adds about $400 to the price of a Ford." Compare the increase the price ($400) against the increase in cost (probably under $100). The big winner here is most likely the consumer, the lesser winner is the auto insurance industry.

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