Reverse-view cameras are more effective at helping motorists avoid driveway accidents than rear parking sensors – but drivers need to bear the brunt of blame no matter what technology is fitted, research by the US Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has found.
A study was conducted using 111 volunteer drivers in an empty parking lot using a 2013 Chevrolet Equinox (the US market equivalent of the Holden Captiva 5). The drivers being examined didn’t know they were taking part in a reversing study, and were instead told they were being assessed regarding the car’s media system.
Volunteers were asked to use the car’s stereo and navigation systems before being told to reverse from a parking space and return to where they had parked their own cars. There were four scenarios tested: drivers either had the assistance of a reverse-view camera only, a camera and rear sensors, rear sensors only or no reverse assist technology at all.
As the driver reversed, a foam cutout of a 76cm child-sized crash-test dummy was placed behind the car. Sometimes the dummy was stationary, while at other times it moved into the path of the car from the driver’s side.
During the test, 100 per cent of people hit the dummy if their car had no reverse assistance technology, while 93.75 per cent of those tested hit the dummy if their car had reversing sensors only. Surprisingly, 75 per cent of drivers in cars with both a reverse-view camera and rear sensors still hit the dummy, while 56.25 per cent hit the dummy with a camera alone. Moving dummies were more likely to be spotted, too.
The high rate of accidents clearly suggests drivers need to be more conscious of their surroundings even if a camera or sensors offer some degree of assistance. IIHS posits that drivers may have been lulled into a false sense of security by having both sensors and a camera, and thus they relied less upon the latter system.
The results closely replicate the findings of NRMA Insurance’s Reversing Visibility Index, which has found that camera technology is superior to sensors across different size segments, from city cars to SUVs.