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Transportation Technology

Rearview Car Cameras Likely Mandated By 2014 652

Hugh Pickens writes "Every year around 17,000 people are injured and over 200 die in backover accidents involving cars, trucks and SUVs. Now the Chicago Tribune reports that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will send Congress a proposal mandating a rearview camera for all passenger vehicles starting in 2014. 'Adoption of this proposal would significantly reduce fatalities and injuries caused by backover crashes involving children, persons with disabilities, the elderly and other pedestrians,' says NHTSA in its proposal. But the technology won't come cheap. In its study, the NHTSA found that adding a backup camera to a vehicle without an existing visual display screen will probably cost $159 to $203 per vehicle, shrinking to between $58 and $88 for vehicles that already use display screens. Toyota of Albany Sales manager Kelvin Walker says he believes making backup cameras standard on cars made after 2014 is a good idea. 'If you want to get a backup camera with a mirror in it now, it may cost you $700 to $800 as an additional dealer option or you have to purchase a navigation which is about $1,500 to $1,600. So $1,600 compared to $200? You do the math.'"
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Rearview Car Cameras Likely Mandated By 2014

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  • by Iamthecheese ( 1264298 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @09:04PM (#39192147)
    When it's requires dealerships will have to add that to the direct competition package along with "takes you places" and "blinkers work." The price will drop accordingly.
    • by Kohenkatz ( 1166461 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @09:19PM (#39192257) Homepage Journal
      Most configurations of the Toyota Sienna minivan now have the backup camera standard and the price has not increased significantly from the last model-year that offered it only as an option. This indicates that the price difference in other vehicles is much more of a "convenience charge" than the cost of the system. If it is in every vehicle, there will be no added convenience and therefore nothing to charge for.
      • Meh, I'd much rather someone sold a car without all the extras. Even if you don't have the extra, the added cost of supporting the option of many of the add-ons makes cars cost a lot. I'm sure it's possible to make a $5000 car that meets all safety and emission requirements, but I guess nobody is interested in buying a vehicle. Everyone wants to buy a lifestyle.
        • I'm sure it's possible to make a $5000 car that meets all safety and emission requirements,...

          Maybe you'd be interested in a Tata Nano [wikipedia.org].

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ironjaw33 ( 1645357 )

          Meh, I'd much rather someone sold a car without all the extras. Even if you don't have the extra, the added cost of supporting the option of many of the add-ons makes cars cost a lot. I'm sure it's possible to make a $5000 car that meets all safety and emission requirements, but I guess nobody is interested in buying a vehicle. Everyone wants to buy a lifestyle.

          This makes me wonder...if the camera breaks, am I then mandated to get it fixed or fail my next inspection? What if it costs several grand to get a broken camera fixed or replaced?

  • hook up a non-functioning camera to the rear of my Jeep. I can see out the back just fine, and unless they make a waterproof screen to mount on my dashboard, it won't last too long anyway.
    • You can't see below a certain level without a camera.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Tiger4 ( 840741 )

        But I can see all around the blind spot without one, so if something diappears into it, I'll assume it might be there until I see it re-emerge. solved problem for the last 100 years of driving.

        • Re:I'll just (Score:5, Insightful)

          by fnj ( 64210 ) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @04:10AM (#39194863)

          Can you see on the ground directly behind your rear wheel? I thought not. A small child lying down to reach something, or fallen down, is way way below any site line from the drivers seat, no matter if you swivel your head 360 degrees and use all three mirrors. You would have to work the side mirror controls extensively; even then it's very dubious you could cover all approaches; and by the time you'd examined all achievable areas, there would have been plenty of time to miss things in the areas your mirrors weren't pointing.

          Unless you are staring at ALL approaches to the blind areas 100% of the time (good luck driving), there is a risk someone or something can enter it without your noticing.

    • Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @09:14PM (#39192215)

      This, as with all car safety laws, isn't a retrofit law. They aren't saying "You have to go buy this and put it on all cars out there." They are saying (or rather considering saying) "All cars made from now on must include this feature."

      Same shit as passive safety systems, window mounted stop lights, seatbelts and so on. You needn't retrofit them on something that didn't have them, manufacturers just have to include them on new vehicles.

      • Re:Why? (Score:4, Informative)

        by Mitreya ( 579078 ) <mitreya@gmailOOO.com minus threevowels> on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @11:34PM (#39193381)

        Same shit as passive safety systems, window mounted stop lights, seatbelts and so on.

        No, it isn't. A number of posters estimated that optimistic cases (i.e. where all deaths are prevented) will work out to $7-$12M/person. Without any analysis, I am going to guess that seatbelts have a much lower cost per life saved ratio
        There are probably better ways to spend the money and save more human lives per $ million.

  • by bigsexyjoe ( 581721 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @09:10PM (#39192191)

    And every time I'm on the expressway, I wish I had a camera for my blind spots. When the government mandates cameras they will probably be like $200 to meet the standards. I'm not sure why automakers didn't think to add the cameras as a cool cheap safety feature. And the ones that do are only on when you are in reverse, so they don't help you with blind spots.

    • by UnknownSoldier ( 67820 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @09:20PM (#39192275)

      > And every time I'm on the expressway, I wish I had a camera for my blind spots.

      You're doing it wrong. Seriously, when you mirrors are _properly_ configured in a car you should NOT have ANY blind spots.

      Angle your mirrors out more. You should be able to track a car in your rearview mirror, to your side mirror, to the right/left WITHOUT moving your head.

      Most people "toe in" their mirrors WAY too much, which means they need to move forward to see "more." This is inefficient, lazy, and just bad (as in accident prone.)

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @09:31PM (#39192385)

        I second this. A lot of people bring their mirrors in until they can see the sides of their own car -- this is effectively useless and the complete opposite of what you want to do. As soon as someone slapped me up side the head and told me to adjust my mirrors properly a whole new world opened up. Not only do I not have a blind spot I actually recalibrate my mirrors (after the wife cranks 'em in) by making sure that as the cars next to me transition from the rear-view to side-view to the out-the-window-view I can see them in both the before and after views simultaneously.

        Second most useful thing I've ever learned...

        • by Electricity Likes Me ( 1098643 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @10:44PM (#39193049)

          Technically I could do this, but it's a distraction. If I can't see the side of my own car, then when I look in the mirror I have no frame-of-reference for what I'm looking at. Yes, I guess I can deal with this, but it makes me very unsure while driving. I suspect a great many people are like me in this regard - it's very distracting not to be able to see the side of the car, since you have no real idea what you're looking at or where.

          And as you say - since what you see changes based on how you position your head, having a "floating" frame of reference in the mirror means you can never be entirely sure you're see all the important spots.

          • by Beeftopia ( 1846720 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @11:55PM (#39193529)

            Technically I could do this, but it's a distraction. If I can't see the side of my own car, then when I look in the mirror I have no frame-of-reference for what I'm looking at.

            I used to think this till I tried moving the mirrors out so I couldn''t see the side of my car. No loss of reference. At all. The mirror is a small surface area which is supposed to be showing you dynamic information - cars moving around you. The side of your car is static information. Completely unnecessary information taking up precious mirror space. You get a tremendous amount of reference information from the roadway markings and the movements of the cars around you. And now you've maximized the amount of useful information (cars moving around you) that you're getting from your mirrors.

      • by mug funky ( 910186 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @10:00PM (#39192637)

        how do you see past the passenger seat, genius?

        you must turn your head. i'm not sure how it is in the land of the free, but where i'm from when you want to turn or change lanes, the instructors give you the mantra "mirror, signal, headcheck, move".

        as in, first you check the mirror, then you use the turn signal (lot of people miss this one), then you actually turn your head around and look where you're going so you can confirm there's nothing in the blind spot that you DO have no matter where you point your mirrors. when all is clear, then you move.

        the fact that people don't even believe they have blind spots makes me not want to drive on public roads anymore.

        • by arcsimm ( 1084173 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @10:37PM (#39192985)
          Just like GP says: on most cars, with the mirrors properly adjusted, a vehicle exiting the field of view of the rear-view mirror will simultaneously cross into the side mirrors, and exit the side mirrors as it enters your peripheral vision. A quick sideways glance may be required to pick it back up at this point, but in most cases it should be nearly alongside you once it's out of the mirrors (this is not strictly true in, say, a convertible with the top up, but it still holds in most cases). This isn't to discount the importance of a good long look before changing lanes, but generally, you should be able to have constant 360-degree situational awareness without craning your neck around the B-pillars.

          As previously mentioned, most drivers set their mirrors such that the wing mirrors are completely redundant with the center mirror, and don't cover any of the bind spots that they should be. Here's a great how-to on properly adjusting your mirrors from Car and Driver [caranddriver.com].
        • by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @10:40PM (#39193013)

          confirm there's nothing in the blind spot that you DO have no matter where you point your mirrors

          Actually, with the SAE recommended method (Google: adjust mirrors sae ) there's NO blind spot requiring a look over the shoulder as the rear of the vehicle next to you is still visible in the side mirror. That said, a *really* short car - or motorcycle - it may not be visible unless you turn your head to the side, but there's no need to look over your shoulder. Obviously, this adjustment method requires three mirrors.

          Still you're absolutely correct that double-checking should *always* be done.

      • by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @10:32PM (#39192931)
        I have had my mirrors adjusted using this "SAE recommended method" for years and it's great, with NO blind spots. Here are a few articles explaining the method or simply Google: adjust mirrors sae
        • http://www.caranddriver.com/features/how-to-adjust-your-mirrors-to-avoid-blind-spots
        • http://www.smartmotorist.com/car-accessories-fuel-and-maintenance/adjusting-your-mirrors-correctly.html
        • http://www.linquist.net/motorsports/tech/mirrors/
        • http://www.wikihow.com/Set-Rearview-Mirrors-to-Eliminate-Blind-Spots
        • http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/08/18/are-blind-spots-a-myth/
      • by Stormthirst ( 66538 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @10:52PM (#39193103)

        Even if you do have your mirrors angled right, you'll still have blind spots.

        That said - there's nothing wrong with turning your head and looking into those blind spots.

        When I was taught to drive, the first thing my instructor did was park up round the corner of my house and showed me how to angle the mirrors. He told me to describe what I could see. Then he told me to look over my right shoulder at the fence behind me. One of the large panels had graffiti on it - which I couldn't see in any of the three mirrors I had. That lesson, out of all them has stuck with me the most.

        No - I don't think these cameras will do what they say they will do. I'm not even sure they will save that many of the 17k accidents from occurring because in my experience these accidents are caused by people who aren't paying attention. If they aren't paying attention their mirrors and turning round to look in their blind spots - what makes you think that they will pay attention to a screen on their dash?

  • by TheInternetGuy ( 2006682 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @09:14PM (#39192209)
    First I was tempted to make a joke, something connecting rear- view and up-skirt with car analogy. But I won't do that, and instead say that, here in Japan rear view cameras has been fairly standard for a long time. My 11 year old car came with one that recently broke. And it is one of those things you don't miss until you had one and it is gone. We live in a neighborhood with lots of kids running around and playing on the small streets between the houses. And with the rear view camera I could be absolutely sure there were no toddler on a three wheeler behind my car when backing out.
    • by localman57 ( 1340533 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @09:21PM (#39192283)
      The other thing, is that the factory installed ones are f*cking awesome for parallel parking. Mine displays an overlaid range indicator on the display. Anyone, even a valet not familliar with the car, can back it up to within a couple of inches of a bumper or car behind it. I ordered the option on a whim, but I'll never get another one without it.
  • Don't people look over their shoulders and use their mirrors when they back up anymore? It's not that hard and has worked fine most of the time for over a century. If some people don't know how to back up properly, then why the hell are they allowed to drive?

    Cameras should be an optional luxury feature, not a mandated system. Besides, what if the camera breaks/lens gets dirty?
  • What. (Score:2, Insightful)

    How did all of these accidents happen?
    Would a camera have prevented it?
    Or will we find new and exciting ways to get ourselves run over because we can't be bothered by our surroundings?

    We should consider reducing the amount of silly, wasteful and frivolous laws on the books, before we add to the pile.

    I think that front cover of this weeks' The Economist sums up my feelings quite well [economist.com].
    • > How did all of these accidents happen?

      I'm willing to bet almost all involve old people whose vision and concentration are past their prime, young people without much experience, and people who are very distracted. I was in the car with my 70+ year old great-aunt when she backed directly into a dumpster--and she was in a minivan with a camera system. How can you not see a gigantic dumpster? You can't prevent accidents like that, period.

      Seriously, 200 deaths a year is statistically insignifican
  • More injuries (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kohenkatz ( 1166461 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @09:15PM (#39192229) Homepage Journal
    Am I the only one who has seen drivers with a rear camera hit something or someone because they looked ONLY at the camera and not at the mirrors or out the windows. I think that when more vehicles come with a standard backup camera, there will be more such incidents, not fewer.
  • What if ... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tiger4 ( 840741 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @09:16PM (#39192231)

    I already know how to back up? Look for people and objects that are behind me and know how to avoid them? Do *I* still havbe to pay extra fora car with a feature I'll never need?

    And what about heatproof, waterproof, sun/age embrittlement of the screen and button? Guess what, some of us live in climates with actual temperature extremes and cracked dashboards are a way of life in older cars. Do those cameras and display screen hold up, or do I just replace them regularly (at a nice tidy profit for the dealer and manufacturer) as the environmental wear kicks in?

    And then there are the insurance liabilities. If I have a camera and it doesn't work, am I now automatically at fault, even when it was the otherguy that ran behind the car?

    Just not loving this as a requirement.

  • The same people who ignore their mirrors, will ignore their rear view cameras as well.
  • Not worth it (Score:5, Informative)

    by michaelmalak ( 91262 ) <michael@michaelmalak.com> on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @09:24PM (#39192311) Homepage

    In determining how much money should be spent preventing a death, it's useful to attach a dollar amount to a human life. The dollar amount says that after you've spent that much money on one life, you're probably better off spending money saving a different life (probably from a different danger). The usual amount is $1 or $2 million.

    Assuming a car lasts 14 years before it's permanently retired, consider a block of 14 years. At 200 lives/year saved, that's 2800 lives saved. At 250 million cars in the US multiplied by $75/car for additional equipment, that's $19 billion. Divided by 2800, that's $6.7 million/life saved. Too much money -- and that's for cars that already have displays.

    As just one example of where money would be better spent, and yes it's a pet peeve of mine, is installing a guard rail in the median of the Fairfax County Parkway. There are a handful of deaths from head-on collisions every year, and it would cost only $10 million to install a guardrail.

  • poor cost vs. reward (Score:5, Informative)

    by justins98 ( 316484 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @09:25PM (#39192319)

    According to wardsauto.com, 13M cars and trucks were sold in 2011. At a cost of $200 each, that means it would cost $2.6B per year to add these cameras to every vehicle. Even if this would eliminate all 200 of the backup-related deaths each year (which it obviously wouldn't), that would mean spending $13M per life saved. This is far higher than the figure used in most engineering projects; i.e. this is not a good return per dollar on safety, and there are much more cost-effective ways to spend this money.

    • by pruss ( 246395 )

      I don't know where the $200 estimate comes from. Currently, Amazon has a mirror monitor plus rear-view night vision camera for $69 (granted, that's a sale price) and for $53 a camera with a stand-alone monitor. Of course there is the labor to install, but there would be minimal labor cost if this was added at the factory, and economies of scale would bring the price down.

  • by dirtyhippie ( 259852 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @09:29PM (#39192353) Homepage

    Breaking news: The guy who tries to upsell you at the car dealership has a tenuous grip in economics.

  • proximity sensors (Score:3, Interesting)

    by GonzoPhysicist ( 1231558 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @09:41PM (#39192485)
    Wouldn't a proximity sensor be a much better solution? I think they're cheaper, and they can yell at you if something/someone is in the way, much harder to ignore than a blob on the screen.
  • by yodleboy ( 982200 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @09:57PM (#39192611)
    but, how many thousands die at the hands of drunk drivers each year? The breathalyzer mandate would be a tougher sell but save more lives. i guess you can sell cameras as "think of the children". The only thing that scares me on the road is the drunken idiots.
  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @11:16PM (#39193241)

    I just re-aimed my rear window washer out behind my truck.

  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @11:32PM (#39193361)

    I have a car with a rear backup sensor. I feel like this is better than a camera, because rather than having to interpret what I see visually on a small screen, I get a simplified display of objects anywhere around the rear of the car along with an audio alarm as things get closer to the bumper.

    So I don't feel like mandating cameras is a good idea, when there are other possible technologies that could work as well or better.

Our business in life is not to succeed but to continue to fail in high spirits. -- Robert Louis Stevenson