Reversing camera should be compulsory for SUVs: Aussie survey

AutoTrader NZ
Published 3 September 2020

News from an insurance company survey on the other side of the Tasman is that a strong majority of Australians reckon rear vision cameras should be mandatory on SUVs. Oh, and many people resent the vehicles outright, but that’s another issue.

The survey for AAMI found that 75 per cent supported compulsory cameras in SUVs to improve safety when reversing. “Tragically, there are far too many incidents each year where people, particularly small children, are injured or even killed because they couldn’t easily be seen by the driver of a four-wheel-drive vehicle,” a spokesman said.

If they took the survey here, the results would probably be similar. However, a rear camera is no substitute for driver slackness and some of the cameras I’ve used have been next to useless. The result points out one of the safety failings of too many vehicles – lousy outward vision. It’s not just SUVs at fault; in fact, some have superb outward vision. Some manufacturers, and there are examples from all around the car-manufacturing world, seem to think all we need is a tank driver’s pillbox view of the world outside.

Steeply raked rear windows, rear spoilers and rear-set headrests that block vision suggest you might as well give up on trying to see through the inside rear-view mirror. Outside mirrors on some cars are small and provide a mean field of view, leaving big blind spots. These shortcomings are concessions to the stylists; but why are some of the best-looking cars also among the best for outward vision?

I can’t tell you why, other than to suggest that some stylists must be better at their job than others. I’m reminded that Subaru designers put in a lot of time and effort to make sure the last Forester – the one before the model that just came out – was very rear-view friendly. The new one may be similar, but I’ve yet to drive it.

Subaru, and some other companies, realised that many parents have a genuine fear that little Johnny may indeed be playing under the rear wheels and that it only takes a moment of inattention for a tragedy to occur.

So I’m not anti camera; just anti suggesting only SUVs need one. Fortunately, they’re fitted to a growing range of vehicles and are getting technically better. Aftermarket kits are available at a surprisingly reasonable cost. I also really like those mirrors that stick out over the rear of many used-import vans. They’re mainly there to show the driver how far away he is from hitting something, but when correctly adjusted provide a quick and easy check to make sure neither Johnny nor his bike are hiding down there.