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Do we really need backup cameras?

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Do we really need backup cameras?

Automotive News -- December 13, 2010 - 12:01 am ET

No one doubts what a tragedy it is when people, especially children, are killed when they are run over by drivers backing up.

It's terrible.

But the suggestion that every vehicle should have a backup camera probably has folks in Washington and automotive capitals around the world asking themselves, "How much is a life worth?" More important: Are there alternatives that would be just as or more effective in saving lives?

There can't be anything worse to debate in a public forum than the deaths of children. It would seem impossible for any automobile company.

That puts the entire subject off-limits to any serious discussion. I don't know who would be willing to put a company's reputation, not to mention his own reputation, on the line with a serious objection to installing backup cameras in all automobiles.

As with all safety devices, the cost will be passed through to consumers. But the cost of installing more than 10 million cameras and screens will be staggering.

Before backup cameras are mandated, wouldn't it be prudent to study whether such cameras have been effective in preventing injury and deaths? Is the primary problem that the driver doesn't know someone is behind the vehicle? Or is it that the pedestrian doesn't realize the car is backing up?

Would a loud buzzer give sufficient warning? Most construction equipment seems to be equipped with loud beepers. Should there also be cameras for the operators?

There are many questions that should be discussed before the government forces installation of cameras and screens. But such an emotional issue seems impossible to debate.

With the increased installation of GPS screens, it might be far less expensive to install a camera when the screen is already there. The rearview mirror may be an option instead of an in-dash screen.

Somehow the painful emotion has to be eliminated so there can be a serious discussion. But that's almost impossible when you are talking about the death of children.

Read more: http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20101213/OEM06/312139999/-1#ixzz1807Ddaml

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