Automobiles are increasingly incorporating cameras and sensors that are reducing the potential for backup crashes. These technological advancements significantly reduce the risk for children, pedestrians, and cyclists as they move behind motor vehicles. However, while these technological tools can help drivers reduce the risk of an accident, they are not foolproof and drivers must maintain constant vigilance when putting their vehicle in reverse.
When Technology Looks Backward
Forward-thinking automotive engineers are taking a look back over their shoulders with many of the new features they are incorporating in automobiles. Among these are the installation of rearward facing cameras, sensors, and automatic braking systems. Combined, studies have shown that these systems can reduce the risk of a backup accident by as much as 78%.
Many of these technological features are still installed as options, and less than 5% of new vehicles offer rear automatic braking as an option on the vehicle. However, this feature alone can reduce the risk of a backup accident by as much as 62%. Rear automatic brakes utilize sonar to determine the proximity of objects within six feet of the rear of the vehicle as well as the speed of the vehicle to determine collision risk. The system alerts the driver to the presence of an obstruction and if necessary, halts the motion of the vehicle by engaging the brakes.
New Rules Make Backing Up Safer, but Not Risk-Free
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has passed rules that require all vehicles under 10,000 lbs. manufactured after May 2018 to include rear visibility devices as standard features. Nationally, it is estimated that this will help prevent up to 70 fatalities and many more personal injuries each year. By 2022, automakers have voluntarily agreed to make front autobraking a standard feature on most new automobiles. Combined, this will provide considerable protection to motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists in the future. However, it will be some time before the majority of cars on the road are equipped with these protective features.
While the technology does help reduce the risk of a backup collision, it is not foolproof and drivers should not rely upon it as their sole means of preventing a collision. As always, drivers should remain cognizant of their surroundings and continue “looking over their shoulder” for children, pedestrians, and cyclists who may be in the vicinity.