A Brief History of Rearview Cameras
The rear-view mirror that is mounted on the ceiling above the center of the front windshield of a vehicle has provided drivers with a useful way to monitor their external environments. Despite its usefulness, the technology of rear-view mirrors has not evolved much over the last several decades, aside from the addition of anti-glare features that is activated by adjusting the angle of the mirror.
The 1956 Buick Centurion Dream Car was a two-door vehicle that was equipped with an astonishing technological element for its time: a rearview camera. In the back of this vehicle, a television camera was mounted and any images it recorded were sent to a screen that was placed in the dashboard, thus replacing the rear-view mirror1. After 52 years that the Dream Car made its original debut, rearview cameras are a customary accessory included in most vehicles today, and is even required by law in the United States.
The Push for Rear-View Systems
On March 31, 2014, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) declared that by May 1, 2018, all cars, SUVs, trucks and vans would be required to have rear-view visibility systems. This announcement follows the pleas of thousands of individuals who have been affected by tragic back-over accidents, especially those involving children and seniors. In fact, a 2010 report by the NHTSA stated that 210 people die every year in the United States from back-up incidents, and an additional 15,000 people are injured. Approximately 31% of these casualties involve children under the age of 5, whereas 26% kill adults over the age of 702.
Under the new legislation, all vehicles are required to provide drivers with a 10 foot by 20-foot view of the area that is directly behind the vehicle. By ensuring that all vehicles are equipped with rear-view systems, the NHTSA estimates that 58-69 lives will be saved each year, in addition to a number of injuries that will also be prevented. Although, in 2014, approximately 73% of light vehicles are already equipped with rear-view cameras, it is only estimated to cost between $132-$142 USD to incorporate a complete system into new cars.
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