Family Cars Offer Poor Rear Visibility: NRMA

Mike Stevens | Oct 9, 2009

RECENT TESTS by NRMA Insurance show that most passenger cars in Australia offer poor rear visibility - a key factor in accidents leading to deaths of children in driveways.

The 2009 Reversing Visibility Index, which lists results for 205 tested vehicles, shows that only five percent achieved a full 'five star' result - up from zer0 percent in 2004.

The NRMA attributes the slight improvement to the increasing provision of reversing cameras in new cars. For the first time, reversing cameras are now available for the Ford Falcon and Toyota Camry/Aurion as either an option or as standard on up-spec models.

“Both Ford and Toyota are to be congratulated on their move to introduce reversing cameras to the large vehicle category – meaning more Australian families will have access to this life saving technology,” NRMA Insurance Spokesperson Robert McDonald said.

“We would like to encourage other manufacturers to follow their lead.

Five star vehicles for rear visibility include the BMW X5, Ford Territory, Holden Commodore Sportwagon, Honda Legend, Kia Soul, Lexus GS 430, IS 250, LS 460 and 570, Mercedes-Benz E-Class and the Toyota Kluger.

Among the 22 vehicles receiving a zer0 score were the Audi A3 Cabriolet and S4 sedan, the Citroen C5, Ford Falcon, Holden Commodore, Cruze and Epica, Honda Acord, Accord Euro and Civic, Hyundai i30, Kia Cerato, Cerato Koup, Mazda3 and Mazda6, Mitsubishi Lancer hatch and sedan, Proton Persona, Subaru Impreza, Toyota Corolla, Prado and Rav-4.

“Less than ten years ago, no manufacturers had reversing cameras, however around half now have them on at least one of their models. And it is pleasing to see manufacturers of more affordable cars, like Kia for example, also embrace this technology," Mr McDonald said.

“Display screens are already installed in many new cars for audio, GPS and air-conditioning. This means a reversing camera can easily be added to the existing system, which hopefully means manufacturers will continue to make them available.”

Mazda Australia Public Relations Manager Steve Maciver said that rearward visibility has not been raised as a concern by owners of either the Mazda3 or Mazda 6, or "for that matter, owners of any Mazda vehicle".

"Mazda takes both occupant and pedestrian safety very seriously and this is demonstrated by the large number of both active and passive safety features available across the whole Mazda range," Mr Maciver said.

"As part of Mazda’s product development process, safety continues to be high on the list. As such, we will continue to look at any further opportunities to improve safety in future models through the integration of new technologies."

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Scott Whiffin, Holden's National Media Manager pointed to the 5-Star ANCAP safety rating of the Commodore and Cruze ranges as evidence of Holden's commitment to safety.

"Safety is not negotiable with our cars - not ever. That's why all of our locally built passenger car range and Cruze have been given a five star safety rating from ANCAP.

"The Sportwagon has reverse parking senses as standard across the range, reverse cameras are standard on Calais V Sportwagon and optional on all other VE Sportwagons," Mr Whiffin said.

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Filed under: Safety, nrma, rear view camera, rear visibility, visibility, rearward visibility, reversing, reversing camera, News

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  • Tony D says,
    5 years ago
    What about other visibility, like how new cars seem to be getting thicker and thicker pillars? I remember at my driver training school they talked about how the thickness of the current Commodore's A-pillar means you can't actually see down the highway you're turning onto when you leave the facility, so if you only do a cursory glance you won't see a semi bearing down on you!
  • Godspeed says,
    5 years ago
    I agree Tony. As camera and LCD technology continues to become less expensive, maybe a good idea would be mounting a small video camera on the outside of each A-pillar (and maybe even C-pillar). The real-time video camera feed could then be fed to an LCD screen placed on each pillar, so effectively it's like the pillar isn't even there; you'd be able to "see through it". The screen wouldn't have to run the whole length of the pillar, it could just be about 8 inches high at eye-level.
  • Grumps says,
    5 years ago
    Yep, I too would like to see something done about forward vision. I had read about the A pillars on the VE but until I had a drive of one I didn't realise how bad they were. I wonder how many accidents they have caused?

    I think that at the least every manufacturer should offer front and park sensors.
  • Charlie says,
    5 years ago
    Godspeed - I'd opt for a KISS solution to the thickening of the A pillars (which improve cabin protection).

    Volvo was experimenting with making the A pillar a lattice rather than a solid piece, and having something clear filling out the space. It means you can still effectively see through the A pillar, while not sacrificing rigidity.

    Electronics like cameras and screens have power overheads, can fail, and are expensive to fix - a see-through A pillar requires no maintenance over and above what a windshield requires and never breaks down due to "wear and tear".

    I'm hoping that scientists can get aluminum oxynitride into an affordable production level. You could practically do away with opaque pillars on most cars, or at least thin down the existing ones and use it for reinforcement.
  • Matt says,
    5 years ago
    Its a trade off with the A pillars... they are thicker for improving the "passenger safety cell" but yeh they are then harder to see around.

    Flexible OLED screens showing footage from cameras could be used around the pillars and would be pretty cool smile Expensive yes, another point of failure yes, so let companies like BMW / Lexus / etc work it and iron out the bugs :P Eventually could have OLED screen across the roof and all pillars as well, would feel more like being on a bike

    Is rear visibilty something that counts in ANCAP safety tests? If it isn't then thats something else that can be included perhaps?

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