Maryland Backup and Parking Lot Crashes: Do Rear-View Safety Systems Prevent Pedestrian Accidents?

Most Maryland drivers have found themselves in this frightening situation. You’re slowly backing out of a parking space, watching your surroundings, when suddenly – a pedestrian walks directly behind your vehicle. You slam on your brakes to avoid an accident. Or maybe you have an automatic emergency rear braking system that stops the vehicle for you, or a system with rear-cross traffic warning that warns of people or other objects behind the automobile.

Backup cameras have been mandatory for all new vehicles manufactured since 2018. So how effective are new automotive safety technologies in preventing pedestrian accidents that occur while the vehicle is backing up? AAA has released reports on backup cameras and other rear-view safety features with interesting findings.

First, a little background on back-up cameras and why all newer vehicles are required to have them.

According to AAA, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates 210 fatalities and 15,000 injuries annually in the U.S. due to back-over crashes — with children under 5 years of age accounting for 31 percent of deaths. These sad statistics led to legislation requiring all new passenger vehicles to come equipped with back-up cameras by 2018.

Most drivers would agree: A backup camera is a helpful tool. AAA reports that backup cameras reduce crashes by 17 percent. But that’s hardly a guarantee to prevent a parking lot or other backing-up accident. Rear view cameras do not display 100 percent of what appears on the sides of and behind a vehicle, and poor weather conditions can also affect the driver’s view.

In addition, AAA found that while reverse automatic emergency braking (AEB) and rear cross traffic mitigation (RCTM) safety systems can prevent deadly pedestrian accidents, these technologies — like backup cameras — are not 100-percent foolproof.

AAA recently tested four popular 2023 model year vehicles equipped with reverse AEB with rear cross traffic mitigation systems. The study showed a 50 percent chance of hitting a pedestrian directly behind the vehicle — a statistic that increased when a shorter, child-sized object was placed in back of the vehicles. The cars and SUVs tested also had trouble detecting objects when backing out of a space on an angle. (See links below for full AAA reports.)

The bottom line is this: Today’s automotive safety technologies can make driving safer for motorists and pedestrians – going forward or backing up. However, no system can detect every obstacle behind or on the sides of a vehicle. Drive cautiously, and look out for pedestrians, bicyclists, and other vulnerable people. Backing up still requires a driver’s full attention to avoid a tragic accident.


How Much Should Drivers Rely on New Car Safety Technology?
AAA Living  collected online March 7, 2024

Don’t Trust Your Automatic Rear Braking System, Says AAA Feb 16, 2024

Reverse AEB with Rear Cross Traffic Alert (PDF doc)
AAA Newsroom Feb. 2024

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