Cameras won’t make drivers smarter

I’ve been stuck in traffic enough times to realize that many American motorists were awarded a driver’s license through a correspondence course. Possibly on the honor system or in the form of some kind of lottery. 

Some of the dumbest things I’ve ever seen, I saw on the road. Until now. 

Monday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published in the Federal Register its long-awaited final rule amending Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) 111 to require rear backup systems/cameras on light duty vehicles. The agency estimates there are 210 fatalities each year as a result of back-over crashes.

One is too many. I have no problem with trying to improve safety, but I do have a problem with trying to legislate common sense. 

I have two small children, and they each have about a billion toys. Some times, they find their way behind my truck. I can’t count how many times I’ve ran over something. Because that number is zero. Any idea how close I’ve come to backing over one of my children, the youngest of which is three? Not even barely.  

Every morning when I leave for work, I check behind my truck – for toys and kids. If my children are outside, I ask them to stand somewhere I can see them while I back up. I don’t need a camera, and I suspect you don’t either. But, now millions of motorists will have to pay for one thanks to 300 or so drivers who should have been handed a bus pass at the DMV. 

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, three people are killed in alcohol-related highway crashes every two hours. Similar data from back-over crashes equals half a death per day. 

Each and every one of those 210 lives that could be saved are precious and important, but what about the nearly 9,800 more lives that could be saved by introducing technologies aimed at curbing drunk driving?

Backup cameras should be an option on a vehicle. An attentive driver behind the wheel shouldn’t be.