Backup Cameras – The Good News

When we bought our Chrysler Pacifica in 2004, it was one of the new breeds of vehicles known as the crossovers.  We loved it. It was roomy, could fit 6 people comfortably, had fold-down seats, and was great on the open road. The only problem was it had rear tinted windows that made it nearly impossible to see out of at night. Truly, there is no good way to safely back the car out of the driveway. Still, we kept the car and still have it as of the writing of this article. So, I am now looking at adding an aftermarket backup camera.

Standard Equipment

Backup cameras have become ubiquitous. In fact, as of 2018, all new cars in the United States are required to have backup cameras. This is according to a recent announcement about the final ruling by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). They came to this conclusion because the NHTSA found that every year, there are thousands of accidents involving people backing up over people. This occurs mostly when children are present. Since, of course, children are small, or when they are riding ride-on toys, they are extremely difficult to see.

This is great news for people buying new cars.  The cameras will not be an option. They will be standard. Yes, that will raise the price of the car, but only slightly.  The difference in price may be about $150 extra, which, overall is not much when you are buying a $40,000 car. So, if a dealership tells you their news car also features a backup camera, it’s no longer an optional selling point. It will be mandatory from now on.

Using a Backup Camera

Honestly, I never really used a backup camera before, except in a rental car. At first, I thought it was awkward. I did not trust it.  I found myself using the traditional mirrors and manually turning around, checking in every direction. Now we have a 2018 Mazda CX5 with a backup camera, and I love it!

I have found that I do put more trust in the backup camera now. More than I thought I ever would. I tend to navigate through the sea of cars in our driveway (we call this “shooting the gap”). When you have four drivers in the house and five cars, it becomes necessary to do some creative parking.

There are many versions and types of backup cameras available now. Some use yellow or blue “guides” to show you the clear path. For some, these are fixed lines.  For others, the guides actually bend to show you where the car is headed.  This, of course, is particularly handy when parking.

Other Uses

I never thought I would use a backup camera for parking, but it really does help. In fact, my son taught me a great way to make sure I pull far enough into the garage, but not too far. I simply pull the car in, nose first, and then put the car in park. After that, I put the car in reverse with my foot on the brake. This activates the rear backup camera, and I can see the garage door. I know if I need to pull up a little or adjust as needed.


Backup cameras are great, and soon all new cars will have them. Shortly, I will be buying an aftermarket backup camera and installing it myself.  Look for that in an upcoming article.

Written by Gary Pradel