Technology has started to change every aspect of our lives, from the way we work, live and play. One of the key elements of technology that has changed our driving habits is the rear facing, backup camera.
For many, we are used to the old fashioned turn your head and look methodology of backing up. However, now backup cameras can augment or even eliminate the need to turn to the rear. With any new technology, it takes some time to get used to it and that is certainly the case with backup cameras.
While there is little debate as to the role of technology augmenting our ability to safely back up in a vehicle, there is some debate as to the efficiency and the reliance solely on backup cameras. Importantly, a backup camera can help you reverse safely but it can not take the place of situational awareness. This means you have to periodically check both your mirrors and your windows.
This is especially true to avoid any oncoming vehicles that might not realize you are in reverse. A reverse camera will display the area directly behind you but further to the left and right, the camera can not see. Therefore, it is incumbent on you to check these locations both before and during any reverse maneuver.
Watch The Lines
Most backup cameras have a series of lines projected on the screen. While all cameras are different and thus the lines have different measurements, the meaning is usually the same. Each line represents a distance, allowing you to know exactly how far an object is away from your rear when the line is touching the object.
Some lines are for example, nine feet, six feet and three feet with a final dotted line showing you exactly one foot from the bumper. Some cameras will allow you to adjust the distance of each line while others have them preset. However, it is important to occasionally recalibrate your camera to make sure that the distances, as shown by the lines, are correct.
The lines along the side of this imaginary box on your screen show you or should show you the sides of your vehicle. In a realistic sense, these represent the sides of your car so you need to make sure there is sufficient distance from these lines as you are backing up. This way you can enter or exit the vehicle and have enough room to do so.
After Market Cameras
Not all cars and light trucks have reverse cameras and thus many are fitted with after market cameras. Because it is in installed with the car or vehicle, you must make sure that you calibrate and check all measurements to ensure that they are correct for your vehicle and type of vehicle.
A reverse camera made for cars installed on a light truck can present problems with using the camera as the dimensions may not correspond. Your manual should include any information for adjusting, calibrating and setting the measurements in your camera .
Don’t Ignore Your Mirrors
As with the mention of situational awareness above, don’t forget your mirrors. Some people will recommend ignoring the mirrors, however during your backup or reverse procedure, you should at least look at both your mirrors and the rear view mirror. This improves your overall situational awareness and can give you an external perspective not reflected in the camera. Remember, your reverse camera is an additional tool. It does not supplant your mind and eyes.
Reverse camera technology is designed to help you reverse safely and effectively. It is an important feature for your vehicle and as such you should make every effort to read and follow all instructions included with your camera. Even if yours is a new car purchase, it is best to become familiar with the feature and the technology before relying on it.