If my SUV had a backup camera, I would have been able to sell it.
I had no idea how popular these things were until I put my car up for sale, and the first question from everyone who contacted me about it was, “Does it have a backup camera?”
Apparently this is even more important than mileage, tire condition, and whether or not the car has an engine.
Personally, I don’t have any use for a backup camera. I’m perfectly capable of turning my head and being generally aware of my surroundings when I’m in a vehicle. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration seems to disagree and is jumping on the backup camera bandwagon by proposing they become mandatory in all new vehicles by September 2014.
I know the NHTSA only wants to promote safety, but there comes a point where drivers are moving further away from mastering actual driving skills and closer to relying on technological assistance. Instead of mandating expensive technology in cars, why not mandate better training for their drivers? Or, if technology must play a part, why not mandatory backup beeps instead?
In addition to the increased driver laziness this kind of technology supports, I’m also concerned about the price impact on consumers. Requiring a backup camera also means requiring a viewing screen, which probably means some kind of integrated dashboard screen.
Once the screen is standard equipment, carmakers will have an excuse to make more technology standard (navigation, dual-zone climate control, touch-screen HVAC controls, etc.) and jack up the price on cars that otherwise would have a simple radio and CD player. Dealers will be able to justify the added costs by saying, “The government is mandating this stuff now – it’s just the way things are.”
I don’t like it. I want the option to buy an inexpensive, basic new car without the added technology. But maybe the rest of the world disagrees. It seems, at least, that SUV buyers in my neck of the woods want the cameras.
I’m honestly not exaggerating about the inquiries into my car. There came a point where I actually said, “Well, it does have a screen, of sorts, that shows what’s behind you without needing to turn your head.”
The young lady was quite excited until it became clear that I was talking about the rear-view mirror. I guess that old-school technology just isn’t good enough any more.
Should the government require a backup camera in all new vehicles?