All cars should have reversing visibility cameras

A car's dashboard shows a child's bike in the reversing camera

RACV's 2016 Reversing Visibility Index shows that vehicle manufacturers are heading in the right direction when it comes to improving reversing visibility - but there is still room for improvement.

This year just under 65 per cent of vehicles tested by RACV scored five stars for reversing visibility, compared with 53 per cent in 2015.

RACV would like to see reversing visibility cameras as standard on all vehicles sold. 

Federal Government data shows that on average around 70 kids are killed or seriously injured every year after being hit or run over, and some of these accidents occur when the child is hit by a car reversing in a driveway.

About the 2016 Reversing Visibility Index

RACV tested 240 vehicles for how well you can see behind when reversing using reversing cameras. Vehicles were rated using a scale of zero to five stars. Like ANCAP crash testing, a rating of five is the best you can get, while a rating of two or below shows the car has visibility issues.

How we test reversing visibility

Each vehicle was put through a demanding set of tests to see how well a dummy (representing a small child) could be seen.

The testing took into account the visible area and distance across the rear of a vehicle, and whether a reversing camera and sensors have been installed.

Check out the video for more info.

Commercial vehicles a worry for reversing visibility

The Reversing Visibility Index found commercial vehicles and small and small-to-medium cars were the worst vehicle types when it comes to reversing visibility. A pathetic six commercial vehicles out of 21 scored five stars, leaving a whopping 71 per cent languishing miserably with a score of two stars or less. 

We can only assume the makers of commercial vehicles are putting price ahead of safety.

Smaller vehicles again fell short, partly because their designers still like smaller windows and high backs which reduce driver visibility. The cheaper price of these types of vehicle also tempts manufacturers to cut costs by removing features where possible.

SUVs and large cars scored well

Contrary to popular belief that rear visibility from SUVs and large cars is poor, both scored highly in the Reversing Visibility Index.

We tested 65 SUV vehicle types and 53 of those top scored with five stars. This makes them one of the best vehicle types for visibility.

Even better were large cars, where 19 of the 21 tested scored a five-star rating.

RACV calls for reversing visibility cameras to be standard

A reversing camera shows a safe reverse zone

Of the 240 vehicles tested, 155 scored the full five-star rating, and it is telling that all of these had reversing cameras fitted.

With results like these it’s clear that manufacturers should be fitting reversing cameras to all their cars, not just their top of the range models or offering the technology as an optional extra. The technology is cheap. There’s no excuse for manufacturers to be skimping and putting lives at risk.

Anyone in the market for a new car should check out the 2016 Reversing Visibility Index first.

Parents who were not ready to upgrade their car could buy and fit an after market reversing camera. Quality units are available quite cheaply these days and could improve the visibility of your car to a five-star standard.

Parents beware

Reversing cameras can save lives. But this sort of technology is not a stand-alone guarantee. Active supervision around vehicles is essential and adults need to know where children are at all times. 

Ensure children are holding an adult's hand or are restrained in a car when near parked or moving vehicles. Do not let children play around moving cars - hold them close.

Above all, keep them safe.

Written by Nicholas Platt, Senior Vehicle Engineer
May 31, 2016