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According to research from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), backup cameras increase safety, but some work better than others.

The IIHS worked with the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) and found that the combination of a rear view camera, rear parking sensors, and rear autobrake reduced backing crashes reported to police by 78 percent. But which vehicles have the most effective systems? The IIHS may now have an answer.

NHTSA Reports on Backup Crashes, Injuries, and Fatalities

In 2008, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a report on the fatalities and injuries caused by motor vehicle backing crashes. They define a “backover” crash as occurring when a driver reverses into and injures or kills a non-occupant such as a pedestrian or bicyclist, noting that these types of crashes can occur on a public roadway, in driveways, or in parking lots.

Other backing crashes that may occur include those that don’t involve a non-occupant, such as when a driver backs into a tree or pole, or when he is backing and is struck by another vehicle. All of these crashes together are referred to as “backing crashes.”

The NHTSA estimated a total of nearly 300 annual backover fatalities per year, with an estimated 18,000 backover injuries. Those most at risk include children under the age of 5, and adults 70 and over. They added that an estimated 44 percent of the backover fatalities involving passenger vehicles were children under the age of 5, while 19 percent were adults 70 and over.

In 2014, the NHTSA issued a proposed rule to require all light vehicles (under 10,000 pounds) to have rearview cameras by the year 2018. The administration then announced the finalized regulation a few months later.

IIHS Rates Six Vehicles on Backup Safety

Back in 2016, the IIHS reported that rearview cameras “can be expected to prevent nearly one in six police-reported backing crashes.” They came by these numbers from a study comparing the rates of backing crashes for vehicles equipped with rearview cameras with rates for the same models without cameras. The study also showed that rear parking sensors also reduced crashes.

Now, the IIHS is helping consumers to find the most effective safety technology. As part of their new rear crash prevention rating program, they studied rear crash prevention systems on six popular 2017 model vehicles, including the:

  • BMW 5 series sedan
  • Cadillac XT5 SUV
  • Infinity QX60 SUV
  • Jeep Cherokee SUV
  • Subaru Outback wagon
  • and Toyota Prius hatchback.

They then categorized each one as having a “superior,” “advanced,” or “basic” rating.

Results showed that the Outback and the XT5 earned a “superior” rating when equipped with the optional rear autobrake, parking sensors, and rear cross-traffic alert. The Cherokee, BMW 5 series, QX60, and Prius all earned “advanced” ratings with this optional gear.

The IIHS stated that the ratings “evaluate the rear crash prevention systems’ ability to prevent damage in low-speed crashes, not their ability to mitigate injuries in crashes.”

They added that the presence of the rear autobrake carried the most weight in the ratings “because research shows it provides the biggest crash reductions.

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