Rear blind zones are a serious safety issue. According to federal statistics, about 228 people were backed over in 2008 in this country when drivers couldn’t see them. Based on its years of experience with backup cameras and sensor systems, Consumers Union recommends a regulation be crafted to mandate such systems in order to remove deadly blind zones behind cars. In public comments made this week to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Consumers Union, parent of Consumer Reports, recommended the agency adopt a standard requiring backup cameras and passive sensors to alert drivers when they need to look at the rear-view screen.
Consumers Union says in its testing it found that no single system offers a perfect solution. Radar-based sensor systems generate frequent false alarms and also fail to warn drivers when a small object is near the back of the car. Too many false alarms can cause drivers to ignore the system when an alarm is actually justified. It’s also known that drivers don’t always look at video cameras. As a result, it was requested that the standard include requirements for screen clarity and size based on how far the screen is from the driver’s eyes. While displays in a rear-view mirror can work well, some dashboard displays can be too small. The Toyota Venza was given as an example. It’s estimated that the manufacturer’s cost of a camera system shouldn’t exceed $100.
Consumers Union also believes that any standard needs to limit the delay between when the car is shifted into reverse and when the rear-view image appears on the screen. In some new-car systems that they have tested, it was reported that it takes several seconds for the image to appear after the car is put in reverse, making it long after you’ve started moving. In others, the dashboard screen won’t display any image until the driver has accepted a legal disclaimer that appears every time the car is started. Consumer Reports has measured the blind zone behind cars for several years. For some SUVs and pickups, a short driver may not be able to see what is behind the rear bumper for up to 50 feet behind the vehicle. In addition, it was found that while some aftermarket camera systems work well, some inexpensive aftermarket backup cameras aren’t durable, and some systems can be difficult to install.
Source: Consumer Reports
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