What I really need is a camera in the front


Before we wander too deeply into this essay, and expose what I hope will be a bit of humor and fun, I want to offer a slight disclaimer.

I know the cameras on cars, engaged when we shift into reverse and start backing up, are important. This is especially true in improving the safety for people, assisting in the prevention of serious injuries. It is also true in the area of property loss and damage.

So, letís not go around thinking I donít recognize the value of cameras on cars, or that Iím making fun of them in such a way that it is believed I donít want them.



How do you like having a backup camera?

Got to say, I hate it more than I like it.

Itís not that it doesnít provide assistance. I do like being able to see how close Iím inching toward the car behind me. Itís nice to know Iíve given plenty of distance between the bumper and the garage door when I get home. And when I have things in the driveway, like a lawn mower or a snow blower or a shovel, I do prefer to stop the car rather than find out itís there by bashing into it.

Backup cameras are a delight.

They are also a royal pain in the butt.

When youíre driving at night, the entire dashboard lights up when the display turns on, pretty much completely compromising a driverís ability to use any mirrors on the vehicle. It can be, literally, a blinding distraction.

They also become a habit, an all-purpose crutch, where many people donít use the mirrors even when they can see them. The look both ways and check your mirrors mantra hasnít changed, itís been wiped out of existence. It almost seems as though if itís not on the camera, it doesnít matter.

Overall, one could likely make a pretty good argument that for all of the gains and positive attributes that a backup camera on a vehicle provides, there are comparable negative results as well.

That said, give me the backup cameras. When you start bringing overall safety into the picture, anything that assists in improving things is worth putting into operation. (Just check your mirrors as well, ok?)

What Iím here wondering about is something slightly different. Something that occurred to me while moving my car a bit after having used the backup view on my dashboard. And here it isÖ

Why donít I have cameras on my front bumper?

Think of it: Youíre pulling out of a parking spot moving forward in drive, need to turn, and thereís something thatís going to be a close call coming near the front edges of your vehicle. How many times have you been turning your car where the ability to see an image of your bumper and the objects nearby would have been amazingly beneficial?

Itís not just turning. There have been more than a handful of times in my life where I was pulling directly into a parking spot and managed to scrape the bottom of the front bumper on a curb or parking block. Iím guessing you have a few of these moments to your credit as well. Would have been really nice to know when I was pulled far enough into the space to stop.

Iíve got a personal story about this that brings things home a bit. (Literally home, as the situation would have it.) Terry and I go to visit our parents from time to time. Often involves us staying for a few nights. The driveways arenít exactly designed for the additional vehicle, so you need to pull everyone up as far as possible in order to keep the last car in from hanging out a bit into the road.

I get that there are some people that will argue about knowing your vehicle and safe driving techniques. For the most part, thatís fair. But there are moments when, say shifting a car into reverse late at night, you begin to wonder if the testing of the units really were designed for multiple situations and possibilities.

Plus, if the cameras and dashboard visual technology have progressed enough in quality and cost to be a mandatory feature on all new vehicles, it stands to reason that a few optional views wouldnít be all that costly to add on.

Now before you go too crazy and start sending me letters or texts, I want you to think about something. In reality, all Iím asking is that when car manufacturers hold meetings to consider what needs to be on a car, they think about forward facing cameras as well. Maybe even something that switches on as an option, when you know youíll be moving slowly and carefully. These are people that have designed trunk space based on golf clubs. I donít think Iím asking for much.

And with that sorted out, I have a few thoughts on the buttons being placed on my steering wheel. But we can discuss that at another time.


If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at Bob@inmybackpack.com