How do backup cameras work?

The backup camera is a standard safety feature in newer vehicles. It's a relatively unnoticeable video camera installed on the back of a vehicle to keep an eye on what's behind you. The camera turns on whenever you put the car in reverse. As you back up, it shows a mirror image on the monitor in front of you, matching your perspective.

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When were backup cameras introduced?

The backup camera's history goes further back than you might expect. According to Hagerty, General Motors was the first automaker to install a (rather bulky) backup camera in a car — the 1956 Buick Centurion concept car. However, the first production car with a backup camera wouldn't arrive until 1991 when the Toyota Soarer debuted in Japan. The U.S. market wouldn't see a passenger vehicle with a backup cam until the introduction of the 2002 Infiniti Q45 sedan.

When did backup cameras become standard?

Rearview monitors became popular over the course of the 2000s and early 2010s. As the technology got better, consumers began to like the feature and officials eventually advocated for it to be in all vehicles.

In 2014, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that it would require carmakers to include backup cameras in all newly manufactured vehicles, effective May 1, 2018. Any vehicle manufactured after May 1, 2018 and sold in the U.S. now comes with a backup camera as a standard safety feature. Learn more about what to look for when buying a new car.

How and when to use a backup camera

Early on, backup cameras were primarily marketed as a convenient feature to assist with parallel and back-in parking. People soon realized that a backup camera could also improve driver and pedestrian safety by helping the driver avoid a collision while backing up. Backup cameras are now used to assist with blind spots, parking, and other safety precautions.

Do backup cameras record accidents?

Backup cameras typically don't record footage like dash cams do since they are only meant to assist the driver while backing up. Since they don't engage unless the vehicle is in reverse, they aren't suitable for recording most types of accidents. Learn about the possible insurance benefits of dash cams.

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