Friday, April 4, 2014

Air Bags All Over Again...

I honestly can't even begin to tell you how angry this makes me.

NHTSA to require backup cameras on all vehicles
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a proposed rule Monday requiring all new light vehicles — including cars, SUVs, trucks and vans — to have "rear-view visibility systems," in effect, requiring backup cameras.

The rule -- which would be final in 60 days -- would start phasing in on May 1, 2016 models and be at 100% May 1, 2018.
Allegedly, 200 people a year are killed when people back up without looking behind them. Now, I'll buy that for a certain percentage, maybe it is a small child that broke free from a watchful parent and just happened to dart behind a car. I don't think that percentage is very large, though. I think for the VAST majority of those 200 incidents, it's people not paying attention.

Guess what? Mandatory back-up cameras aren't going to make people pay better attention. They'll just be able to see the person they're about to run over.

Waving the magical government mandatory wand doesn't make problems go away. By forcing car manufacturers to include another complicated piece of electronic equipment (they claim the cost is $150. Try to get one installed for that little. Seriously), all they're doing is kicking the can down the road. I'll wager the cameras don't make a statistically significant dent in the number of people run over.

The problem isn't that drivers can't see the people behind them, it's that the drivers aren't looking. The video that plays in the accompanying story is a very sad one indeed - a woman out for a walk was backed over by a teenaged driver. It's terrible, certainly, and 100% avoidable. But to think that a backup camera would make a teenager pay better attention? REALLY?

What bothers me the most, though, is that we once again take the blame away from where it belongs - the driver not paying attention - and put it on something else - the car not having a camera. Rather than say, hey, that driver did something negligent and should be punished (funny, the story doesn't mention if the 16 year old that hit the woman went to jail...), we mandate cameras for all cars, clap our hands together, and declare the problem solved.

Until the next time someone gets run over because a driver failed to devote proper attention to the task at hand...

That is all.


Jacqueline said...

A friend has one on her van. Several times she has started backing up (not looking at the monitor - or around for that matter) and I have to point out that a car is coming.

Dave H said...

This pessimistic engineer wonders how many people will be focused on the monitor while they back out of the driveway and completely miss seeing the car coming down the street.

If NHTSA is going to make safety features mandatory they ought to be required to prove that the proposed features are actually effective first, like pharmaceutical companies do. But that's too expensive.

Ted said...

The difference will be that when the cameras are installed the lawyers will get to add the deep pocket manufactures to the lawsuit because the cameras " were not working properly ". When the 6 year old blond girl was run over by her drug addled mother.

Stretch said...

Lawyers are salivating ... Oh! Wait! Ted and I must have had the same Cynic Flakes for breakfast.

Jennifer said...

"rear-view visibility systems,"
You mean, like mirrors?
People aren't paying attention to what they have and you're going to add this crap. Yeah, yeah, yeah. For the children.

ASM826 said...

If you tie it in so the cameras are displayed on their cell phone, they might actually see it.

Wally said...

Logically, we need forward-facing cameras too. That should improve safety, right ?

Geodkyt said...

I would LOVE to have a back up camera installed.

I STILL want my friggin' mirrors, though, just in case of electronics failure!

Sigivald said...

I love backup cameras (I couldn't stand the idea of backup up my F250 in a parking lot without one...), and would not buy a car without one.

I also think it's nobody's damned business to mandate them.

(And in fairness, mere mirrors aren't that helpful in many modern cars with insanely high trunklines, which I'm led to believe are "for pedestrian safety" somehow, reducing injury when some idiot inevitably backs into someone because they just didn't bother to look.

You literally can't see a small child behind many cars, even looking directly in all the mirrors; a camera does solve that.

[Hell, I don't think I could see a seven-year-old standing directly behind my truck, in the mirrors, at all.

It's not a matter of "not looking", it's a matter of no line of sight.]

It's just not anyone's business to decide Every Car Needs One.)

Sigivald said...

Also: (they claim the cost is $150. Try to get one installed for that little. Seriously)

For parts, quite possible; neither the cameras nor the monitors are very expensive, and so many cars simply have an LCD screen already that the marginal cost is even lower.

The real cost of an aftermarket install* is installation labor, which is much, much, much lower when it's done while constructing the car.

I'm actually surprised that "cost" of the system is as high as $150 to the manufacturer.

(* It cost something like $700 to have one put in my truck, at inflated retail prices.

About $100 for the camera, $200 for a mirror with a monitor in it, and $400 for labor.

[But you can buy a standalone monitor and camera together, retail, for under $100 on Amazon, and the cables aren't that expensive.

I wanted a "better" camera and integrated monitor, which cost more. And to not have to do my own install.]

None of those prices are relevant to a manufacturer building one in, integrating with the existing touchscreen, and buying in bulk, not retail.)

It's still none of the Government's damned business to mandate it, but I find the cost figure perfectly plausible - or a little high.

pediem said...

When I had my truck at the dealer for a day recently, I was loaned a car that had a rear camera. I wasn't impressed.

Even backing out of my garage into my driveway, I couldn't see much of anything on the little screen. I sat and stared at it for a few minutes before I moved, just trying to figure out if anything was there (and I have neither children nor pets) before I gave up and just looked in the mirrors.

Wandering Neurons said...

I don't have backup cameras on my or my wife's car. But as a hobby, I drive ambulances for our county EMS system. Half of them have cameras. They're great at preventing you from backing over a fire plug or vehicle parked directly behind you. But they're equally useless at spotting an overhead limb, or seeing the car whizzing towards you from your side, or even in the camera's blind spot (about 20' behind the bumper and beyond).
I've only had one backing accident, when I was a teenager, driving my Mom's van. And a camera wouldn't have helped then, either.
Backup cameras are a crutch for knowing how big your vehicle is, and what your surroundings are. Useful, but not the solution to the problem.

Scott_S said...

I have a car with a backup camera - only times it's used are backing up from angled parking and parallel parking (shows the path)

On a Wing and a Whim said...

The woman that crushed my leg wasn't looking. Her first clue she'd backed into a car parked at a gas pump - and the person checking the oil level on that car parked at a gas pump - was when I bodychecked her van's rear door in an attempt to escape and started screaming. I left a two-inch deep dent in her door. She left a lot deeper dent in me.

She got ticketed with "improper backing". Seriously. That's it.

I got a metric buttload of medical bills, and had to take her insurance company to court to make them pay. And had to learn to walk again.

She's still a idiot, and the cops still won't let me have a get-out-of-assault-charge-free card for just one good proper crowbar to her knee now that I'm off crutches lo these many months later.

It's probably a good thing society doesn't allow dueling; her kid will probably be a slightly better person for still having that particular failure of humanity around to raise her.

Not that I have a real strong opinion about idiot drivers, or anything.

Stretch said...

Next: Dash cams, both forward and inward facing.
With mandatory recording of all times car is occupied.
With live monitoring by "appropriate authorities."

Think I'm paranoid?
Then you haven't been paying attention.

I remember when seat-belts were a OPTION and not a legal mandate.

Eck! said...

I have a Yota with the cam in it.

I also have both mirrors and have been driving pickups sins 1972.

With that said... The camera is useful for checking that small spot I cannot see. The display is part of the rear view mirror so its in a useful spot.

Its lousy for depth, distance and
backing up and mirrors are good for that.

Cost, it was in the truck when I picked it out. For the factory to do its cheap to add later its a royal PITA and no cheap.

Still Its not going to do anything for safety as that's always been required to be between peoples ears.

As to cell phones... They should
be mandated to disable themselves
whenever there is gas fumes or things with tires closer than 15ft.


LMB said...

Yup. I see this ignorant ass "Gee, let's just jam it into reverse and hammer the gas without looking" ALL. THE. DAMNED. TIME.

Backup cameras and monitors will be nothing more than another useless geegaw that they'll put in their vehicles just to show off. They already have windows and mirrors and they don't use them.

More Nannystatism FTL!

DOuglas2 said...

Had one on a rental Suburban. More of a hazard than a feature in daytime. After dark? Holy cow, I've got night vision!!!!

But I think we're going to get for more then 200 casualties p/a now that government motors in their wisdom has decided that its a good idea to subvert the clear instructions of TP-108-13:
"A lamp or lamps which illuminate the road to the rear of a vehicle and provide a
warning signal to pedestrians and other drivers when the vehicle is backing up or
is about to back up. "

They seem to think that means it's a great courtesy light to come on when you hit "lock" or unlock", on the remote, or when you have just put the car in "park" It took me about a dozen times of cautioning people in parking lots not to be so stupid as to walk directly behind a car that was signalling it was about to reverse, only to have them look at me with a confused expression because the car was unoccupied and not running, before I grokked this stupidity.

Jay G said...

For clarification:

I have *nothing* against back-up cameras. I wish the Earthf**ker had one, actually - it would make hooking up the camper a snap, and I could finally back ALL the way into a space rather than 5' from the car behind me, get out, check the distance, *then* all the way back in...

It's the concept that the government is going to *force* car makers to include this in every car, that they're using the power of the Federal government to correct what is fundamentally a human error issue.

And it's not going to do a damn thing, because people that don't check behind them when they back out aren't going to magically start paying attention to a camera. They're going to back out without looking at the camera rather than back out without looking at their mirrors.

In fact, I'll pose that it might actually make things *worse*, because people are going to get a false sense of security from the camera. "I don't need to look behind me, I have my back-up camera for that!" [thud]

And what happens when the inevitable occurs, and someone that's driven for years relying on hardware has to drive a car without a camera? Or the camera breaks, as hardware does?

JP in MT said...

I want one on my Dodge 2500, but the purpose is to be able to back up to my trailer without having to get in and out to get lined up.

I wonder if these NTSB folks have been to our WalMArt? People walk out in front of moving (or about to move) vehicles like the car is supposed to see them and stop. Then they get pissed when you don't seem to recognize their right to walk and text while multi-thousand pound machines are moving around. I wonder if they just took the general stats and didn't break them down and find out how many people might have been uninjured if the driver had a camera?