The 10 Best Backup Cameras
The First Backup Cameras
The backup cam option was only available in Japan and not offered on the U.S. model, which was known as the Lexus SC.
The first production car that had a backup camera factory installed was the 1991 Toyota Soarer Limited.
Most of us didn't see our first backup camera until the mid to late 2000's, so it might surprise you to learn that the first backup camera was actually installed in the 1956 Buick Centurion concept car. It was debuted at the General Motors Motorama and it used the backup camera to replace the rear-view mirror entirely. Of course nowadays, we know that even the best backup cams shouldn't be a total replacement for a rear-view mirror, but rather something that can be used in conjunction with one for safer vehicle operation.
The first production car that had a backup camera factory installed was the 1991 Toyota Soarer Limited. The backup cam option was only available in Japan and not offered on the U.S. model, which was known as the Lexus SC. A CCD camera was installed on the rear spoiler and the video image was displayed on an electro multi-vision (EMV) screen, which was also used to control the vehicle's audio components, a hands-free phone, and, if installed, a GPS navigation system.
In April of 2000, Nissan introduced the first car with an integrated backup camera intended for sale in North American markets at the New York International Auto Show. It was in their flagship sedan, the Q45, and featured a license plate-mounted camera and an in-dash 7" monitor to view the image. It was the first unit that had colored onscreen guidelines to give you parking distance parameters and was officially launched for mass market sale in March of 2001. In 2002, the Nissan Primera introduced backup cam systems to markets outside of North America and Japan.
Types Of Backup Cameras
When it comes time to pick a backup camera for your vehicle, you'll be presented with three different kinds. You can choose a flush-mounted option, a license plate-mounted model, or a surface-mounted one. Each of these options has its own benefits and drawbacks, and each is best suited for a certain type of application.
Each of these options has its own benefits and drawbacks, and each is best suited for a certain type of application.
For the standard passenger vehicle, a flush-mounted camera is a suitable option and the kind that often comes factory installed. These are mounted through a hole in the vehicle's body and are practically imperceptible at a casual glance. It provides a view that is most often directly level with the road, which can be a slight drawback as it doesn't offer a high degree of depth perception. The great thing about this type of camera is the clean and professional look, which doesn't detract from the vehicle's style. Unfortunately it can be a bit intimidating to install yourself, as you'll have to drill a hole in your car's body.
A license plate-mounted option can be a good choice for the average person looking to do the installation themselves. It attaches to existing license plate mounting screws, so you don't have to drill any holes. The drawback is that this style is a bit bulky and anyone can easily see that it was an aftermarket installation.
Surface-mounted cameras, while still noticeable as aftermarket installations, are considerably smaller than the license plate-mounted models and offer a cleaner look. They do require you to drill some holes, but this can often be done on the bumper of your car as opposed to the body, so installation isn't too intimidating. This type is also a good choice for larger recreational vehicles as they can be aimed downwards to aid in parking, as they provide a good amount of depth perception.
In each of these types, you'll be able to find all-in-one systems that include a camera and a display, and camera-only systems that can connect to your car's current in-dash screen.
Backup Cameras And The Law
There is no arguing that having a backup camera system installed in your car can save lives and prevent injuries. Roughly 200 people die each year from light vehicle backup-related accidents, with another 15,000 injured in some way. Over 30% of these deaths and injuries are children under the age of 5, presumably because they are short enough that they cannot be seen in the rear-view mirror. Despite the shockingly high number of incidents that happen when vehicles are backing up, it took a lawsuit to get the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to act.
The NHTSA has finally passed a ruling that requires all new light vehicles manufactured that are under 10,000 pounds to have some kind of rear visibility by May of 2018. This means that every car from the most expensive luxury models all the way down to the most affordable budget models will soon have a backup camera and some kind of dash or rear-view mirror monitor.