Over 15,000 people are injured every year as a result of “backover” accidents. These people are victims of mistakes made during some of the most common driving maneuvers: reversing out of driveways and parking spots. Over 200 of these victims, including many children, die from their injuries. These accidents are preventable, and laws have been passed supporting safety measures like rearview cameras in cars. But how effective are these new technologies, really? And how can we reduce the risk of being involved in one of these tragic accidents? In the midst of the busy holiday season, a few reminders can help us keep our guard up.
How Effective is the New Technology?
In 2014, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration created a new rule making rearview backing cameras a required feature on all new vehicles. The rule doesn’t take effect until May 2018, but these cameras have already become a common sight in new cars. A study published last year reported that these cameras reduced a car’s blind spot by about 90%, an impressive number. However, over half of the drivers in the study still hit a child-sized dummy placed behind their car. These results highlight a very important fact about driving safety: no technology can replace the need for awareness and caution behind the wheel.
Another technology becoming mainstream is the parking sensor. Parking sensors detect how close obstacles, like passersby, are to your vehilce and alert the driver. In the same study we mentioned before, these sensors were actually found to be ineffective in preventing accidents. Less than ten percent of drivers using the sensors avoided hitting the child-sized dummy. This troubling statistic should serve as a warning and a reminder. Technology is advancing, but the roads we drive on are not necessarily becoming safer. We need to ensure that we are not allowing tools like cameras and sensors to make us complacent. A false sense of security can easily lead to error and tragedy.
So How Do We Stay Safe?
Like we said before, no technology can replace the need for awareness behind the wheel. There is no better driving safety feature than paying attention. There are several easy ways to combat the possibility of a backover accident. These three simple steps can be done quickly each time we get in the car:
- Walk around your car prior to backing out. This can help you spot and solve any potential problems.
- Roll down your windows before you back out. This makes it easier to hear children, passersby, and other cars.
- Actively check your mirrors while reversing.
These tips, along with simple attention and care, can go a long way towards protecting us against accidents. Technologies like cameras and sensors can be a great help on the road, but they are no replacement for a safe driver.
Photo copyright to Jeff Wilcox