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How Rearview Cameras Work

        Auto | Options

Replacing the Rearview Mirror?

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates more than 180 fatalities occur each year as a result of back-over accidents, often with a parent or close relative behind the wheel. The majority of the deaths are children ages 12-23 months, prompting many activists to seek ways of limiting fatal accidents. In a one-month period alone during 2006, 15 recorded back-over fatalities occurred, with 12 coming at the hands of a relative [Kids and Cars].

rearview mirror
Jan Greune/Getty Images
Rearview cameras may replace review mirrors in the U.S. if the Cameron Gulbransen Kids and Cars Safety Act passes.

Parents Sue Nissan for their Own Negligence
On Oct. 9, 2004, a man in Garland, Texas, backed over his two-and-a-half year old daughter while attempting to back his Infiniti SUV out of his driveway. The accident left the family without their daughter. In the wake of the tragedy, the family sued Nissan for an undisclosed amount citing the company as negligent for not offering rearview cameras as a standard feature in all of its vehicles. At the time, cameras were available on the M45, Q45, FX35/45 and QX56. The lawyer for the family contested that rearview cameras should not ever be optional and that Nissan was putting the cameras in other vehicle thus they should have put them in the model the family bought. Incidentally, the camera was offered as an option, but the family chose not to purchase the upgrade. [source: Cervantes]


As a result, rearview cameras may soon become a staple on every vehicle. Prominent politicians such as Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) have lobbied heavily to mandate rearview cameras in all cars. Clinton, along with Sen. John Sununu (R-N.H.), introduced the Cameron Gulbransen Kids and Cars Safety Act, which would effectively mandate rearview cameras in cars by 2010, in 2005 and again in 2007. The bill has been shelved for later discussion.

The costs of installing such cameras may be more than consumers can bear. Depending on the manufacturer, backup and rearview camera systems can range from $455 on a 2008 Ford Expedition to $7,850 for the package on a Mercedes-Benz R350 [source: Wall Street Journal]. In the case of the R350, Mercedes-Benz adds a bundle of options and corners consumers into having to buy some things they may not desire just to get something they do.

To read more about rearview cameras and related topics, including a list of car manufacturers that offer them in their lineups, check out the links on the next page.