According to the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety), backup accidents result in approximately 300 deaths and 18,000 injuries each year.

A motor vehicle has a substantial blind spot at the rear of the vehicle. A small vehicle can have as much as a 12-foot blind spot at the rear of the car. An average pickup truck can have a 24-foot blind spot at the rear of the truck bed. Shorter drivers can even longer blind spots.

Backing up represents only about one percent of a person’s average drive time. However, it accounts for a quarter of vehicle-related accidents. Drivers often do not see other vehicles, animals, adults, children, and other items in their blind spots. 

Backup Cameras Have Become Standard Equipment

Driver assistance technology is becoming more advanced. Each year, improved vehicle safety systems help prevent traffic accidents and save lives. Many newer vehicles have driver assistance technology as standard features.

Backup cameras are one type of driver assistance technology. Backup cameras have been standard equipment on all new motor vehicles sold in the United States since May 1, 2018.

The K.T. Safety Act of 2007 required federal agencies to make rules mandating backup cameras on all new motor vehicles. A lawsuit filed against the U.S. Department of Transportation in 2013 finally resulted in backup cameras becoming standard equipment on new vehicles. 

How Do Backup Cameras Work?

When a driver has a backup camera, it substantially reduces the blind spot at the rear of the vehicle. The camera displays the area behind the vehicle on a screen on the dashboard. The driver can see what is behind the car. 

The assumption was that combining a backup camera with proper backing techniques (turning to check blind spots) would reduce the number of backup accidents. However, tests conducted by the NHTSA revealed that drivers continued to have backup crashes even when the vehicles were equipped with backup cameras.

What Do the Statistics Say About Backup Cameras and Accidents?

According to the Washington Post, the number of new vehicles sold with backup cameras increased from 32 percent to 68 percent from 2008 to 2011. However, backup accidents fell by just eight percent during that period. 

The NHTSA points out that the number of deaths from backup accidents fell during the period. It estimates that backup cameras would save between 58 and 69 lives each year if all vehicles were equipped with backup cameras.

However, it could take decades before all vehicles on the road have this technology. Many people continue to drive older model vehicles without backup cameras. Individual car owners may not see the value in purchasing newer model cars with driver assistance technology.

Drivers Do Not Pay Attention to Backup Cameras

Backup cameras are useful tools to reduce blind spots and avoid backup crashes. However, if drivers do not look at the screen to check their blind spot, the backup camera does not serve any useful purpose. The driver must be attentive and use the technology to prevent crashes.

In addition to backup cameras, rear automatic braking could save even more lives. When the system detects an object behind the vehicle when it is in reverse, the system automatically engages the braking system to avoid an imminent crash. 

The rear automatic braking system could prevent a backup accident without any action by the driver. Adding rear-cross traffic alerts can also improve the safety level. Rear-cross traffic alerts warn drivers when something outside of the backup camera view could cause a rear crash

Drivers Are Ultimately Responsible for Preventing Accidents

Driver error is the most common reason for backup accidents. These accidents occur when a driver is distracted, does not turn to check blind spots, or does not use the backup camera properly. 

When a driver causes a backup crash, the driver can be financially liable for any damages caused by the accident. Even when a vehicle is moving slowly in reverse, a crash can cause serious injuries. A child or adult could be knocked down, and the car could roll over them.

Injuries from backup accidents include broken bones, internal organ damage, brain injuries, and spinal cord injuries. Amputations, paralysis, and wrongful death are other serious potential outcomes of a backup crash.

If you were injured in a backup accident, you could be entitled to compensation for your injuries, lost income, medical bills, and pain and suffering. Seeking advice from a car accident lawyer can help you understand your legal rights, including deadlines for filing personal injury claims.