NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Back-up cameras help drivers to see things behind the bumper that we normally wouldn’t, but are we relying too heavily on them?
By checking your rear and side view mirrors, you would hope to see something sitting in your driveway, especially if it’s a good 10 to 20 feet behind you.
But did you know the blind spot behind your car is so big an entire busload of children could fit behind?
As CBS2’s Alex Denis reported, the federal government recently mandated all new vehicles sold in the United States must have back-up cameras by 2018.
Introduced in just a handful of cars in 2003, the primary purpose of a back-up camera is to prevent back-over accidents of young children. While they do significantly improve the view, the cameras are not completely foolproof.
Despite the quality of the image or size of the screen, back-up cameras typically only provide an 80-degree field of view behind a vehicle.
“With any of these driver assistant aids, they shouldn’t replace your skills as a driver or your attentiveness to what’s going on around the car,” said Jennifer Stockburger, who tests the rear view visibility of cars for Consumer Reports.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration research shows deaths declined from 274 to 189 between 2008 and 2011, according to the most recent data available. But even with the significant increase in the number of vehicles with back-up cameras, back-over accidents have only gone down by eight percent.
“At least 50 children a week are backed over,” said mother Susan Auriemma, whose daughter, Katie, was one of those statistics. “I almost killed my daughter.”
Katie, who was three at the time, survived, but the near-tragedy changed Auriemma forever.
“Everyone needs to know it’s something that could happen,” she said.
She’s made it her life’s mission, along with her organization, KidsandCars.org, to increase awareness of the problem.
“It’s part of a whole tool kid,” she said. “You want to still make sure you’re using your rear view mirrors, side view mirrors and looking over your shoulder.”
And perhaps most importantly, always walk behind your car before getting into it.
Experts also suggest teaching children not to play in or around cars. You might also want to consider installing additional sensors that can alert drivers to obstacles.