Another “Option” Now Mandatory

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Rearview cameras are now mandatory – or soon will be, starting with model year 2018 vehicles (see here for more). The government takes the position that you and I cannot back into a parking spot or out of a driveway without driving over a small child . . . unless we have the assistance of a closed-circuit camera system built into the car.

Ironically, it is because of the government that people have been backing up over small children.

To understand this, you really need to sit behind the wheel of a car made before the late ’90s – and then jump behind the wheel of a car made today. “Beltlines” – the height of the doors – are much higher than they used to be. You sit lower in the car as a result. The roof is supported by A, B and C pillars (A pillars being the ones at either end of the windshield, B being at the mid-point of the car – if it’s a sedan – and C being toward the rear glass) that are two or three times as thick as they used to be. Rear glass is as a result of this typically smaller. And then there are a pair of tall-standing backseat head restraints that eat up much of the already limited view to the rear.


It’s hard to see what’s next to you. Or what’s behind you. Even if you’re using your mirrors; even if you’re trying to be responsible. Your available field of vision is diminished. I’ve been test-driving new cars for more than 20 years – and the difference (Then vs. Now) in terms of outward and peripheral visibility is startling.

So, why?

The design aspects of modern cars described above are there to make new cars compliant with the latest government side-impact, anti-whiplash and (most recently) roof crush safety standards. And they are safer. . .  if you have an accident. But they’re also less safe – in that you’re more likely to be involved in some sort of accident because of the impaired visibility.

And so, mandatory back-up cameras.

We get to pay – an estimated $140 per car, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – for the government’s mistake. Or rather, for the unintended consequences of government edicts. It’s not unlike having to take another drug to counteract the side-effects of the first drug one was prescribed. The difference being your doctor can’t – yet – force you to take the drugs. When it comes to government mandates, the cost-benefit analysis is made for you – and then imposed upon you.

That $140 figure is also – as usual – fundamentally dishonest.

Even if accepted at face value, it does not factor in future repair/replacement costs. Keep in mind that the cameras are built into the rear bumper. Rear-ender accidents are probably the most common type of accident. And now there’ll be another component to replace – at your expense. At everyone’s expense – because insurance costs will surely go up in response to higher repair costs. And even if no one rear-ends you, eventually, the cameras will stop working or the LCD display screen will crap out.

Stuff wears out.

Things go snafu.

Especially electronic things.

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