Could rear-mounted backup cameras save lives?
One of the most basic rules of driving is that you look out your back windshield when you're backing up your vehicle to avoid hitting pedestrians, other vehicles or stationary objects. We all learned that in driver's ed, and we all had to do that in our DMV driver's test to get our license.
Most of the time this strategy works, but what happens when a pedestrian is standing in your blind spot? What happens when it's dark or foggy outside and you can't see anything? What happens when a child is behind the car, out of view of the driver? What happens when the driver is distracted and doesn't bother to take a look before backing up?
Unfortunately, what often happens in those situations is tragedy: According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 300 people a year are killed in these kinds of accidents in the U.S. alone. More than 18,000 are injured. Half of those killed are children. Other groups estimate that backover accidents kill about two children and injure 48 children every week. No amount of car insurance can prevent these kinds of accidents.
Safety advocates are using those tragic numbers to support their push for federal laws and regulations that would require vehicle manufacturers to install rear-view video cameras with in-dash displays in all new cars. These rear-mounted video cameras with in-vehicle display screens would beep or automatically roll down the windows if the vehicle if a person or object got in the way of a vehicle in reverse.
Car manufacturers, on the other hand, have been pushing to delay the rules. They argue that these camera systems are too expensive, adding as much as $200 extra to the cost of a car. Automakers also say the government hasn't done enough to explore other options, such as expanded rearview mirrors, that could make a difference at a lower cost.
The federal government has not yet said whether it will require the backup cameras in new vehicles. The Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood, said his agency needs more time before it can determine the most appropriate rules to issue. As it stands now, 45 percent of model 2012 cars already come with the rearview camera systems installed.
If your car has rear visibility features, such as a rear-mounted video camera with an in-vehicle display screen, will your car insurance be cheaper? It's too early to answer that question, but the frequency of car backover accidental deaths is another reason to take a look at your car insurance policy's liability coverage limits. You could be sued in civil court by an individual you injured in a backover accident, or you could be sued by the family of an individual killed in such an accident. Jury awards in cases like these seem to get bigger with every case. Unless you're independently wealthy, the only way to protect yourself from the financial burden . That said, If your vehicle doesn't have a rearview camera or expanded mirrors, your need for insurance coverage is greater because you are at a greater risk of being involved in one of these accidents.