Understanding how to back up effectively is one of the most basic and critical procedures of operating a vehicle. However, the importance of doing the procedure properly cannot be understated since this is one of the most common crash types experienced by fleet drivers.
According to data from The CEI Group, accidents that occurred while parking and backing up were listed as the fourth most common in 2016, accounting for 7.35% of reported fleet accident types.
There is good news: Rearview camera technology has been shown to help prevent these types of incidents. The technology has prevented nearly 1 in 6 police-reported backing crashes according to a study the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) released in November 2016. About two-thirds of crashes in this study occurred in parking lots, private property, or off of the roadway, which is where many back over crashes occur.
“We saw the benefit in the crashes that were reported to the police, which tend to be more serious and tend to be ones where you damage someone else’s vehicle,” said Jessica Cicchino, vice president of research for the IIHS.
The rearview camera technology will be standard on all new vehicles under 10,000 pounds by May 2018 due to a ruling from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The ruling also detailed that the field of view of the camera must include a 10-foot by 20-foot zone directly behind the vehicle and it must also meet requirements that include appropriate image size, linger time, response time, durability, and deactivation.
According to NHTSA, nonresidential parking lots, the site of many fleet-related accidents, account for 17% of back over fatalities and 52% of back over injuries.
In another study, NHTSA forecasted that rearview camera technology may be able to prevent an estimated 58 to 69 deaths annually once all vehicles under 10,000 pounds are equipped with the technology.
Utilizing the Technology
According to the IIHS, rearview cameras reduced the blind zone for drivers by about 90% on average. However, while the technology may make backing up easier for drivers, it is not a panacea.
“The rearview cameras certainly provide more visibility behind your vehicle than you can see by turning around, but there are some areas behind your vehicle that you can only see by turning your head around that your camera might not catch. And that’s why it’s important to turn around and look behind you and use all the tools available to you,” said Cicchino.
Cicchino mentioned that users might find it difficult to properly use the camera when lighting conditions aren’t great. Difficulty viewing images in the rearview camera display could also be the result of debris, rain, or shadows that are projected onto objects in the camera’s field of vision.
Other Useful Technology
Cicchino said that IIHS believes rear cross traffic alert to be a promising technology that could help in the prevention of parking lot crashes.
The system alerts the driver when an oncoming car or object is approaching near the rear side of the vehicle.
She said IIHS also saw promise with rear auto braking technology.