Next Up: Feds To Require $200 Cameras - Where Do You Draw The Line?

I saw this article in USA Today, today.


I hope everybody doesn’t think I’m cruel (This was without a doubt a very tragic accident), but it seems that when there’s a tragedy like the one cited, where a father backs over his child, congress knee-jerks more laws onto our cars.

A car with a back-up camera was available to anybody wanting to buy one if that was seen as a priority.

Am I wrong ?

Should we be O.K. with the Feds requiring cameras ?

What’s next after this ?

Is a “cheap car” going to be too expensive for some folks pretty soon ?

Will this drive used car prices even higher ?

Where do you draw the line ?


I bought a 2011 Sienna that came with a back-up camera and I don’t find it all that useful. I’ll admit that I haven’t gotten used to looking at the display on the dashboard.

I suppose it will be standard equipment when it is a proven safety factor. My first car, a 1947 Pontiac, did not have turning signals, back-up lights or a windshield washer. I bought a turning signal kit from Montgomery Ward and spent an afternoon installikng it. My 1955 Pontiac did not have a windshield washer–I installed a kit from J.C. Whitney. I had to add back-up lights and a windshield washer to my 1965 Rambler. My Dad’s 1939 Chevrolet did not have a defroster.

All of these things (turning signals, windshield washer, back-up lights, defroster)s drove the prices of the cars up. Time will tell whether or not the back-up camera is useful.

I don’t know. I certainly understand that at some point people need to be allowed to make their own choices, good or bad, and much of our legislation does sometimes seem to be based on rare, but sensational, occurrences.

That said, I also have to register my displeasure with car manufacturers who seem to be building vehicles with less and less rearward visibility.

Example 1) Recently I thought I might be in the market for a small SUV, but many of the models I drove had poor rear visibility–so poor I could not see myself merging onto, or driving on, a busy freeway for any length of time.

Example 2) I recently drove a late-model Impala for two weeks while the Mazda was in the shop (repairs on a rear-end accident). Because of the very large C pillar and very small side mirrors, it was easy to miss a car while merging, even with head checks and with the mirrors set like Tom and Ray advise.

Sometimes I think we’ll all end up driving in cars with no windows and using cameras, viewscreens, and radar to know what’s going on around us.


It seems the more that style and other considerations become more important, visibility takes a back seat. In a recent conversation with a Mass. state policeman who was lamenting the anticipated loss of the Crown Vic, I was surprised about what he said he will miss most if they go to the Dodge or Taurus. It was the visibility…handling yes, reliability and “repairability” too, but outward visibility the most.
Logic seems to have taken a back seat and back up cameras are a sign of it in many cases.
Better designs and teach people how to use their mirrors correctly. Back up cameras have their place, and they will become common place some day. It should be as an adjunct and not instead of good design.
Bring back the Pacer !!!

I’m not sure we need “mandatory” back up cameras. That said, if this rule is enacted in time it won’t add that much to the cost of the car. Many SUV’s are now designed to have the screen and the camera is getting cheaper by the minute. Once the wiring becomes part of the standard design into the cars it won’t add much either. The screen, camera, and wiring, mass produced and put in every SUV, wagon, and mini van will drive the costs down to just about zippo. Rather than the $200 it might cost at the start, in about 5 years the cost will be about $20.

Over time I don’t think this rule would change any pricing significantly and certainly not put the price of an SUV out of anyone’s reach. It appears that folks no longer turn around when backing up. They rely on mirrors and/or wait until the “bump” into something. As the driving population gets older and lazier perhaps we need the back up camera to handle our increasing monsterous vehicles.

My company put back up beepers on all our company cars. Reps didn’t like it but it apparently did reduce one of our most frequent accidents, hitting objects while backing up. Would you rather have a camera, or a back up beeper? The beeper is cheaper and might have warned the child the car was about to move in the case of this accident. The beeper is annoying as heck, but it is cheaper and it does work.

It seems the more that style and other considerations become more important, visibility takes a back seat.

Style over visibility has been going on for years. My first car, a 1947 Pontiac Streamliner fastback had a skylight as opposed to a rear window. However, in the time period that the car was made, the fastback styling was all the rage. I remember my Dad saying that one of the reasons he chose the 1939 Chevrolet over the 1939 Plymouth or Ford was that the Chevrolet had a large rear window whereas the Ford and Plymouth had two little split panes.

I had an AMC Pacer. The visibility was great.

I bet what is really going on is the Feds want to spy on you (and everyone else). Everyone of these camera will be able to be monitored so soon the entire Nation will be under surveliance. JUST JOKING

If it keeps just one child safe I am all for it.I once saw an Oprah episode dealing with abstinence and there was a question from the audience,that question was, “What about the children”?( since some find it hard to find I will point out there is humor present in that statement).

As long as the camera in part of the Coni-seal monitoring program it will work perfectly.

The rules change only mandates a specific field of view rather than a backup camera, although I recognize that backup cameras may be required in SUVs to meet the rule. But it might also motivate redesigns of future vehicles with better visablility in mind without backup cameras.

I have no problem with this one. It’s a regulation to help protect the innocent from the carelessness of others. This is the function that regulations should perform, rather than trying to protect us from ourselves.

Estimated 200 dollars probably not. The cost will likely be higher along with adding complexity and higher repair costs.

Once people become acclimated to these cameras they will probably be ignored, just like temperature gauges and oil pressure lamps.
Laws are in place requiring some vehicles to have daytime running lamps on, motorcycles to be operated with headlamps on, etc. in the name of making the vehicle more visible. The only thing it accomplishes is that the lights are burning when an accident occurs.

A few years ago someone near here ran over a child (he survived) and this child was beside the car, not behind it. They were backing up and cut the wheels which then led to a front wheel striking the kid. So do we add side cameras too?

I don’t have a problem with the camera being an option; only as a mandatory feature.

While I guess there is some room for improvement regarding style over function in today’s cars, GOOD GAWD, can’t we think of anything better than the Pacer?!

It seems that now that we have seat belts, airbags, crumple zones, and whatever else has been thought of by 2000, the safety features that the government wants to mandate (in some cases already has) are getting to be very sophisticated systems, such as stability control, that add considerably to both the initial purchase price and the long-term repair costs. I often wonder what people are going to say perhaps 10 years from now when they take the SUV in for inspection and find out that it needs a $1,500 repair on the stability control system to pass inspection.

I can’t understand why the Gov. seems to concentrate so much on the car while continuing to license horrible drivers. I think we would all be a lot safer if people would concentrate on driving instead of talking on the phone, texting, shaving, reading the paper, and applying make-up!

While I’m sort of “on the fence” about the cameras becoming a mandate, there is statistical evidence that DRLs reduce accidents. I quote below excepts of some data I found

"Norway’s DRL law from 1980 to 1990 found a 10 percent decline in daytime multiple-vehicle crashes.1 A Danish study reported a 7 percent reduction in DRL-relevant crashes in the first 15 months after DRL use was required and a 37 percent decline in left-turn crashes.2 In a second study covering 2 years and 9 months of Denmark’s law, there was a 6 percent reduction in daytime multiple-vehicle crashes and a 34 percent reduction in left-turn crashes.3 A 1994 Transport Canada study comparing 1990 model year vehicles with DRLs to 1989 vehicles without them found that DRLs reduced relevant daytime multiple-vehicle crashes by 11 percent.4

In the United States, a 1985 Institute study determined that commercial fleet passenger vehicles modified to operate with DRLs were involved in 7 percent fewer daytime multiple-vehicle crashes than similar vehicles without DRLs.5 A small-scale fleet study conducted in the 1960s found an 18 percent lower daytime multiple-vehicle crash rate for DRL-equipped vehicles.6 Multiple-vehicle daytime crashes account for about half of all police-reported crashes in the United States. A 2002 Institute study reported a 3 percent decline in daytime multiple-vehicle crash risk in nine US states concurrent with the introduction of DRLs.7 Federal researchers, using data collected nationwide from 1995-2001, concluded that there was a 5 percent decline in daytime, two-vehicle, opposite-direction crashes and a 12 percent decline in fatal crashes with pedestrians and bicyclists.8"

Elvik, R. 1993. The effects on accidents of compulsory use of daytime running lights for cars in Norway. Accident Analysis and Prevention 25:383-98.

2Hansen, L.K. 1993. Daytime running lights in Denmark: evaluation of the safety effect. Copenhagen, Denmark: Danish Council of Road Safety Research.

3Hansen, L.K. 1994. Daytime running lights: experience with compulsory use in Denmark. Proceedings of the Fersi Conference. Copenhagen, Denmark: Danish Council for Road Safety Research.

4Arora, H.; Collard, D.; Robbins, G.; Welbourne, E.R.; and White, J.G. 1994. Effectiveness of daytime running lights in Canada. Report no. TP-12298. Ottawa, Ontario: Transport Canada.

5Stein, H. 1985. Fleet experience with daytime running lights in the United States. SAE Technical Paper Series 851239. Warrendale, PA: Society of Automotive Engineers.

6Cantilli, E.J. 1970. Accident experience with parking lights as running lights. Highway Research Record 332:1-13. Washington, DC: Transportation Research Board.

7Farmer, C.M. and Williams, A.F. 2002. Effects of daytime running lights on multiple-vehicle daylight crashes in the United States. Accident Analysis and Prevention 34:197-203.

8Tessmer, J.M. 2004. An assessment of the crash-reducing effectiveness of passenger vehicle daytime running lamps (DRLs). Report no. DOT HS-809-760. Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

9Wang, J.S. 2008. The effectiveness of daytime running lights for passenger vehicles. Report no. DOT HS-811-029. Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

I am not an anti-regulation type of guy. (Actually, pretty much no one is. Even those who profess to be anti-regulation are not. They just tend to think regs are ok for those things that they personally agree with).

But holy cow. I am so tired of the growth of the nanny state.

I hope this is not the new standard for author citations.What I mean is,you should be able to post data without 9 citations so you not get flamed.

“I can’t understand why the Gov. seems to concentrate so much on the car while continuing to license horrible drivers.”

I am absolutely with that and I think it hits the real problem on the head. I would take it in a completely different direction though. Our “system” for driver ed / training / preparation / licensing approval is archaic. I think they were arranged when most people were still on horse & buggy. Huge numbers of people out there are only barely aware of what the heck is going on around them and are in the dark about basic driving rules and skills.

Technological fixes are fine kept in their place. But they often keep people from dealing with the real issues.

I guess I got carried away.

With all that glass the Pacer must have been a great car to keep cool in the summer.

8 Things That Would Make Cars Safer:

The problem is trying to get drivers to do these things. How are you going to get drivers to use their mandatory back-up camera ? Are we going to install car interior cameras to record the driver and input that into the mandatory “black box” ?


Holy Cow Cigroller, So I Take It You’re Not In Favor Of The Mandatory “Black Box” ?


In the extreme you should always do a “walk around” your car just to make sure the neighborhood kids have not decided to sit and play right behind the car (or the town drunk has not decided to pass out there). But who really does a “walk around”? Backing up over a child could happen to anyone. I think the absolute horror of the event must have been experienced in some way by the legislatures that are proposing such changes (or perhaps they were motivated by simply being told of an event).

I do remember an incident in NY that a well known “crime figure” (since deceased)lost one of his children like this. Events did not go well for others involved.If ever there was motivation not to have such an accident there was clearly one here in this example.