Back-Up Cameras

Backup Cameras Ratings

What Is It?
Back-Up Cameras allow the driver to view the area behind the rear bumper and see small objects that may be obstructed by the vehicle’s blind spots, or may not ordinarily be visible at all.

There are several different versions of back-up camera systems. Some systems simply provide a view from the back of the vehicle, while others pair this view with a sensor that warns (audible alarm) if an object is detected too close to the back of the vehicle. Other systems will even apply the brakes automatically to prevent a potential collision.

Why Did Back-Up Cameras Earn a 2-Solid & 3-Open Star Rating for Back-Up Event Situations?

Studies of the potential benefit and demonstrated real-world effectiveness of back-up cameras are somewhat limited. A series of experimental studies found that back-up cameras reduced crashes in a collision trial by around 30%, which yields a 3-Open Star rating. Additionally, in 2010 the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released proposed rules in the Federal Register that estimated that annual fatalities occurring from backing crashes could be reduced from 207 to 112 (46% reduction) if all vehicles were equipped with rearview video technology. The estimate for reduction in annual injuries was from 15,446 to 8,374 (46%). An insurance data study of claims for Mazda vehicles equipped with back-up cameras found a 22.2% reduction in serious bodily injury claims, yielding the 2 Solid Stars.

Why Did Back-Up Cameras Earn a 1-Star Overall Safety Benefit Rating?

Though it is estimated that back-up cameras could reduce backover crashes (in which a vehicle in reverse hits a person) by as much as 46%, this crash type itself accounts for a small number of overall crashes. However, it should be noted that since such events are more likely to involve vulnerable persons like small children, they are often deadly and may have a particularly high emotional consequence.

Why Would I Use This Technology?

Backover crashes account for a fairly small percentage of total collisions, but they are more likely to lead to severe injury or death. Back-up cameras provide an easily accessible view behind the vehicle, and may warn the driver if a potential crash/collision is detected. The primary benefit of this technology is that it makes it much easier to monitor a difficult-to-see area around the vehicle and take corrective action as a result.

What Do Drivers Think?

Opinion on back-up cameras is very positive, with 80% of surveyed drivers agreeing that the technology improves their safety. 96% of respondents found the technology easy to use. Older drivers were more likely than younger drivers to be interested in the system. However, many drivers (67% in one survey) incorrectly believe that the system will be active regardless of their travel speed.

How Well Does It Work?

Back-up cameras reduce the likelihood of a backover crash by at least 46% (NHTSA 2010). It is difficult to say whether this extends to differences in insurance claims, as the likelihood of a backover crash is small to begin with.

Who Benefits Most?

Back-up cameras are currently installed in about 25% of all vehicles, but are Federally mandated to be in all new cars and light trucks by May 2018. They are likely to be especially useful to suburban drivers who often back out of a driveway, or urban drivers who frequently parallel park. They would also be beneficial to older drivers, who may lack the flexibility necessary to turn and thoroughly check the blind spot.

In What Situations Doesn’t It Work?

Many back-up camera systems will turn off if the vehicle is traveling faster than a certain speed (6 MPH in many implementations). Drivers should remember to continue to check their rearview mirrors and look over their shoulders in order to avoid becoming overly reliant on the camera.

Mobility Significance

Back-Up Cameras increase the driver’s field of view, and may be especially useful to older drivers who have trouble stretching to check blind spots.

Not All Systems Are Alike

Back-up cameras can be found under several different configurations. Image quality will vary between different implementations and conditions. Some cameras overlay guidelines onto the video. Others are connected to a sensor that will warn the driver if a rear obstacle is getting too close, and some may even automatically slow down or stop the vehicle. For more information, visit


Different Names, Same Idea

Consumers may encounter other terms, such as "Rear-View Cameras," to describe this technology.

How Can I Learn More?

Full references to all studies quoted above can be found in the official AAA Foundation report, "Evaluating Technologies Relevant to the Enhancement of Driver Safety." The project's Fact Sheet provides more detail on the rating system itself, and the criteria used to assign solid and open stars, both for Overall and Scenario Specific ratings.