The Land Rover Writer

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

My Rear End Camera

According to the New York Times the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration [NHTSA] will mandate rear cameras for all passenger vehicles starting in 2014.

Rear view cameras are predicted to save the lives of 228 people - yes, 228 - that year. Most, but not all, will be be young children. 

The estimated cost to the auto industry will be $160 - $200 per car, some of which is bound to wind up with the consumer. 

As cars have striven to become "safer" in the event of crashes, designers have been forced to reduce the "greehouse," the area of windows within each car, which has now hampered rearward vision. Thus, in "solving" one issue, safety regulators have created another. Cars also continue to grow in dimensions and in weight, which makes heavy glass, less desirable. 

The last regulation of this sort was the "Libby Light," the third brake light named for Elizabeth Dole, a former Secretary of Transportation in the 1980's. That lamp works on the presumption that a person who won't pay attention to the two mandatory brake lights in front of them will pay attention to the third one, mounted higher on the rear of the car.

My '66 Land Rover has no such feature, just a large rear window and zero overhang in the rear of the car. When that window is too dirty to see out of safely, I must exit the car and clean off the window. Whew - what a chore that is! Why not drive around blind instead and enjoy my right to behave like an idiot?

When I'm running a canvas top in the summer, I often roll up the rear window to make certain I can see clearly out of the rear. 

My '66 Corvair has a large greenhouse, especially in the rear. The rear end of the car [the engine end] slopes down out of view, so visualizing the rear of the car becomes an essential part of driving. I can see anything - like a person - behind me quite well, just not the end of the car. So I must carefully gauge my backing into a spot by getting out of the car to look - whew, what a chore that is! Why not back in blind and enjoy my right to behave like an idiot? 

My '80 Triumph TR-7 has a "Kamm tail" rear end, one that chops off almost vertically. The rear window is large enough, and the car is low enough, to see anything behind the car. Since it's a British sports car it sits low to the ground, which makes entry and exit from the cockpit physically taxing at times - when, what a chore that is! Why not back in blind and enjoy my right to behave like an idiot.

So now, if I were foolish enough to buy a new car in 2014, I would be required to pay for a center dash console with a navigation system/screen/entertainment center/backup camera, all because someone can't be bothered to actually pay attention while driving. 

My rear end camera is a rear window, kept clean enough to see, and my willingness to actually turn around in the car and look behind me before backing up.