Rear Cameras Are Effective but Not Foolproof, Says IIHS Study

By | March 14, 2014
Most new vehicles today are available with rear cameras because these devices are considered essentials for safe driving. A new study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety confirms this notion, and also reveals that cameras have been proven more effective than parking sensors in reducing backover crashes. But the study also concludes that cameras may not catch everything. In its second study on rear cameras and parking sensors, IIHS gathered 111 volunteers to drive the 2013 Chevrolet Equinox midsize SUV. The volunteers, who were told their goal was to evaluate the car's infotainment system, were also instructed to back out of parking spaces. Meanwhile, the test crew placed foam child dummies behind these vehicles to see if the drivers would detect the obstructions. Rear cameras in the Equinox vehicles managed to help drivers avoid crashes 44 percent of the time while the dummies were stationary. Parking sensors, however, prevented just 1 out of 16 crashes. All drivers who didn't have a backup camera ran over the stationary dummies. Surprisingly, cars equipped with both the rear cameras and sensors fared worse than those that had cameras alone. IIHS also tested the effectiveness of these devices when the dummies moved into the vehicle's path from the driver's side. In this test, neither the backup camera nor the parking sensors provided much benefit, and few drivers hit these dummies.
In a previous study, IIHS found that backup cameras reduce blind spots of cars by an average of 90 percent. Blind zones can be a huge problem on new vehicles thanks to new preferences in today's market. To improve fuel economy, automakers often design their vehicles in a way that reduces rear visibility but bolsters aerodynamics. Because of these concerns, the government is considering issuing regulations that would increase rear visibility in all new vehicles sold in the U.S. Source: IIHS