Should All New Cars Get Backup Cameras?

Backup camera

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.

But where's the camera 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?


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  1. I am a 71 year old man who until last week have never owned a car with a backup camera. I live at the end of a cul-de-sac for 2 years now, and have seen 2 accidents of a car backing into a parked car while turning around in front of my house. With the glare from the street light (or sun) and the relative darkness (at night) of the rest of the field of view, it is not really surprising. I read a lot of comments on blogs about this subject, mainly from macho guys who seem to believe that they are good drivers. They also do not want the government mandating a camera on their vehicle. I just bought a KIA Soul w/backup camera, and it is wonderful. By using the normal ways of looking, and the camera’s view, I can see a lot better. No doubt about it, it makes it safer for the people around me. I see a lot of jacked up pisk-up trucks nowadays, and I know that a rear camera would help here too. The camera only comes on when in reverse, so there is no problem with driver distraction the rest of the time. It will save a lot of children’s lives, and who can argue with that?

  2. “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.”

    haha, that’s great, you just made my morning. And I agree with what Bryce said, people need to be able to back up their cars the way their parents did – without an expensive camera setup. Does my car have a rear view camera? No. Will I ever need one? I don’t know for sure, as I’ve never driven an SUV/pickup before, but I’m leaning towards ‘no’ for that question too. My parents own a Honda Pilot, and neither of them have issues backing it out of our driveway, a parking spot, etc. without a rear view camera.

  3. If youre unable to reverse a car using mirrors or turning youre head you should not have a licence. If the vehicle has no rear visibility it should not be classed as roadworthy.

  4. Have you ever tried to backup using those things? It scared the heck out of me. People need to learn to drive big vehicles or stick with smaller cars.

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