One of the most tragic accidents when reversing is running over a child. Toddlers are often the victims of backover accidents because they may run out to follow mommy or daddy when they are leaving.
You may follow everything you've been taught when reversing:
- Don't rely solely on your rear view mirror and side view mirrors when reversing.
- Look over your shoulder and scan from side to side.
- Reverse slowly.
Even if you do all those things, it's easy to miss somebody behind you, particularly a youngster, who is shorter than your car.
And if you don't know someone is behind you, by the time you do, it might be too late.
Now there is a modern way to reduce the chances of a rollover accident: install a backup camera. Unlike a rearview mirror, a backup camera gives you a clear view of the entire area behind your vehicle and at a very wide angle.
For the 2017 model year, 59% of vehicles sold in the United States include a back-up camera as standard equipment, according to separate estimates from Edmunds.com and the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety. But in both cases, if you are new to these cameras, you should practice with them before using them.
Adding a camera
Retailers such as Best Buy and Amazon.com sell aftermarket systems for less than $15 for a bottom-of-the-line stand-alone camera for vehicles that have existing in-dash displays. A complete setup with a camera, transmitter and display can run up to $300.
One aftermarket system is the QuickVu, a $259 system with a rearview camera that mounts to the license plate holder and uses radio signals to transmit images from up to 50-60 feet in back of a vehicle to a 3.5-inch monitor mounted on the dash, and digital signals to turn the system on and off.
Installing a back-up camera on an existing car isn't difficult. Some require only a screwdriver, while others require a drill to mount the camera into a rear bumper cover.
Some aftermarket camera makers post videos on their websites with step-by-step set up instructions, and many auto parts retailers do installations.
Even though back-up cameras can help prevent accidents, manufacturers warn drivers not to rely on them completely. Drivers should continue checking side and rearview mirrors, and look over their shoulder to see what's in back of them.
If visibility is limited and it's dark, a backup camera may be slightly less useful and it's especially important that all other reversing techniques are used.
Manufacturers also instruct auto dealers to give anyone buying a new or used car with a back-up camera system a walkthrough of the system before they drive off the lot so they understand how it works.
Finally, whether they're factory installed or aftermarket equipment, rearview cameras don't need much more maintenance than a periodic wipe-down to clear away accumulated grime from the camera lens.
In heavy rain or snow, manufacturers recommend checking before you drive off to make sure the lens isn't obscured.