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Do Rear Visibility Systems Prevent Auto Accidents?

In an effort to reduce the amount of backover fatalities and injuries, all new cars will be required to have rear visibility technology by May 2018. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), the required rear visibility systems must expand the field of vision to include a 10-foot by 20-foot zone directly behind the vehicle, as well as meet other requirements regarding image size, linger time, response time, durability, and deactivation.
Backover accidents are responsible for 210 deaths and 15,000 injuries each year, with children under the age of 5 accounting for 31 percent of backover fatalities and adults 70 years of age and older accounting for 26 percent.

The NHTSA estimates that, when taking in account those vehicles that already have rear visibility systems installed, “58 to 69 lives are expected to be saved each year once the entire on-road vehicle fleet is equipped with rear visibility systems meeting the requirements of today’s final rule.”

Other In-Car Safety Technologies

As we reported, in the next few years, new cars and trucks may also be required to include crash avoidance technology on al
l new vehicles that would allow vehicles to communicate with each other to avoid crashes. According to U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, the current administration plans to develop a proposal before 2017 that would require auto makers to include crash avoidance technology on all new vehicles.

Do Safety Technologies Actually Prevent Accidents?

There is no doubt that rear visibility technologies go a long way in reducing the number of backover accidents and save lives. But some experts fear that certain in-car safety technologies could encourage risky behavior by creating a false sense of security. For instance, while safety features like stability control have not been shown to cause an increase in risky driving, other technologies such as adaptive cruise control and lane departure warnings encourage risky or distracted driving. Moreover, some in-car technologies have actually made driving more dangerous. For instance, AAA has warned motorists that Bluetooth technologies and other hands-free-voice-based systems impede a driver’s ability to operate a car safety because it diverts the driver’s attention from the task of driving.