Modern technology has helped our society move forward in many different ways. This technology helps us enjoy life differently than we did 5, 10 or even 20 years ago. We have things now that help life to become more enjoyable, such as cell phones, laptops, digital cameras and webcams. As a driver, do we also have things like that to help us enjoy driving and drive safely?
I was recently speaking with a student I was teaching at Young Drivers of Canada and he asked me if a reverse camera was a good idea. It can be, but for limited use. For those who aren’t aware, there are vehicles that have a camera near the rear license plate that shows the view from the rear of the vehicle whenever you’re backing up. There are other products you can purchase that you can add a rear camera to your license plate cover; if you want them.
For some drivers, they rely on the rear camera for all of their backing skills. This isn’t really a good idea. The rear view camera can only show you the rear of the vehicle. The problem is that danger from behind doesn’t always originate from the rear; it can also come from the sides. By the time you spot the pedestrian behind you, it could be too late. The best thing to do while reversing is to shift in your seat so you’re sitting slightly on your hip and then look over your shoulder out the rear window. This will allow you to use your peripheral or fringe vision to spot any pedestrian coming from the side of your vehicle and is about to walk behind your vehicle.
For the driver who prefers to use their rear view mirror to reverse, I have two words for you; stop it. Using the rear view mirror to reverse does pretty much the same as a rear view camera, but with even less of a view. If your body won’t allow you to shift and look over your shoulder, you are allowed to take off your seatbelt while backing; in most jurisdictions. By doing so, you’ll have better mobility to see straight out the rear window. Your fringe vision will spot any pedestrian, including kids, who may be heading for the rear of your vehicle.
Okay, so when should we use the reverse camera? As you look over your shoulder to back up toward another vehicle in a parking lot or toward a concrete block in a parking lot, those objects tend to disappear into what’s referred to as a blind area. The reverse camera will help you see how close the rear bumper of your vehicle is getting to those objects. Keep in mind that the view is somewhat distorted through the reverse camera. There are other ways to help improve your backing skills other than using a reverse camera. However, knowing when to use that camera will help your backing skills become safer.
Using the reverse camera when you shouldn’t could cause an incident with another driver or a pedestrian. It can also cause us to rely too much on technology instead of our own abilities. And sometimes, our own ability can work a little more effectively than modern technology. Keep in mind that you may also get so used to this modern technology that if it doesn’t work for any reason, you may forget what to do differently. Modern technology is great, but knowing when to use it to make our driving safer is more effective.