THIS week a relieved mother — whose 14-month-old son mercifully suffered only minor injuries when run over by a reversing car — called for all new cars to be fitted with reversing cameras. That’s entirely understandable and sensible. Carsguide is in accord.
Some models as cheap as $24,000 are fitted with these lifesaving devices. Other vehicles in the same showroom with a similar sticker price are not. Yet others valued at four times this sum require you to tick the optional extras box.
At best this is inconsistent; at worst it’s cynical and iniquitous.
It’s a fact of life that the sight lines of contemporary cars are diminishing in all directions, not least towards the rear. The reason is not enigmatic. Design is essentially a process of compromise and all-round vision is the victim of the necessity for vehicles to punch through the air with the least resistance — the lower the drag coefficient, the lower the fuel consumption.
It can be argued the cheapest cars — at least in their current generations — might be exempted from such rules.
However, there is every reason for reversing cameras to be as compulsory as seat belts, anti-lock brakes and stability control to achieve the maximum safety rating.
Surely this is a point on which all without an ulterior motive for the status quo can be agreed.
So it’s fairly terrifying to hear a media expert remark that reversing cameras are “ineffective if the driver is not actually looking at the screen”.
Um, OK. Nor are belts effective if they’re not buckled nor indicators if they’re not activated. But they’re kind of necessary, right?
Or maybe not, according to the same individual. He cites an ill-attested study to the effect that “some researchers consulted for the paper suggested the fitment of cameras could create complacency with drivers”. There was more, but I cannot bring myself to perpetuate it.
Suffice that it’s the sort of quasi-Darwinian reasoning we used to hear from the NSW Centre of Road Safety (an outfit named without irony), whose policy it was to oppose training young people to drive on the grounds that this would make them “over confident”. Just give ’em a licence for life and nature will take its course. This is plainly deranged.
Coming new-generation models in which reversing cameras are not offered as an affordable option at the very least are no longer eligible for Carsguide Car of the Year.
Safety focus: This Hyundai displays the reversing camera image in the rear-view mirror