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Driving (Summer 2007)

Back Up With a Camera
by John R. Quain
A rear-view video camera can prevent tragedy

Audiovox Rear View Camera ImageDriving a car isn’t about getting there faster—or even about getting cheaper gasoline or figuring out how to reduce your carbon load. It’s about getting there safely.

While airbags and other safety features have helped secure adults, many accidents involve children and vehicles that aren’t even on the road. Rear blind spots are one significant danger, and according to compilations of news reports nearly 2 children a week in the U.S. die as the result of being backed over—often by the child’s parent or guardian in the family’s own driveway.  And it’s not just minivans and SUVs that have huge blind spots in back; most cars have blind spots extending about 12 feet behind the rear bumper. And that figure includes models like the Honda Civic and Ford Focus. (For a Consumer Reports listing, see “Blind-Zone Measurements.”)

The best solution—aside from making sure you know exactly where the kids are before putting your car into reverse—is to get a rear-view camera for your vehicle. There are several add-on models available, and many of them all but eliminate that blind zone. For a complete explanation of how they work, see our article “Improving the View Behind.” There’s also a breakdown of different options in “Looking Back.

For more information on child auto safety, including issues regarding power windows and automatic transmissions, I suggest visiting Kids and Cars, a non-profit safety advocacy group that has been actively involved in trying to get legislation passed that could eliminate many of these dangers.


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