As automobile manufacturers are catching up with new technology, the idea of replacing side view mirrors with cameras has been experimented with. The NHTSA requires every vehicle sold in the United States to have mirrors in which drivers can see what is next to and behind them. Because of this, car companies have not been able to completely replace the mirrors with cameras. But the NHTSA is not the only agency that has apprehensions with these cameras. This technology poses a significant concern for law enforcement officials like the NYPD as well and their ability to keep the roads safe.
Once installed, side view cameras are relatively simple to operate. When a driver uses their turn signal, the camera is activated and a live view of the road appears on a screen in front of them. The idea is that the camera will enhance the driver’s visibility of the road and this will help prevent accidents. Here’s why these cameras can pose more risk than protection: it requires the driver to take more time to observe their surroundings. Since cars must have mirrors in addition to these cameras, it necessitates the driver to look at both the screen and their mirrors, as opposed to just the mirrors alone. There is a reason every driver in the U.S. is taught to turn their head when turning or merging; there is no camera better than the driver’s eyes. If a driver is permitted to skip that step, it could possibly lead to more accidents.
Law enforcement, especially traffic and highway patrol officers, are dedicated to keeping the roads safe. If a car’s side mirror is broken or missing, an officer can easily pull that vehicle over and issue a citation. If the car’s side camera is malfunctioning however , there is no way for the police to recognize that major safety issue. Furthermore, there is no guarantee that drivers will use their supplemental cameras properly which can cause more accidents on the road.
Distracted driving is a major factor in a large percentage of motor vehicle accidents. Is the side view camera considered a distraction? Quite possibly. But it would be one nearly impossible to prove. This would pose issues in police reports, personal injury cases and insurance reimbursement. Law enforcement officers do not want to deal with another factor that can escalate the difficulty of their work, not to mention their duty to keep the roads safe.
Perhaps there will come a day when you buy or lease a new car and worry about scratching the cameras rather than the mirrors, but until that technology is perfected, side view mirrors will remain as the standard in vehicle manufacturing.