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RACV issues reversing index

Life-saver: Ford's Territory is available with a reversing camera.

Five stars for less than one per cent of 270 cars tested in the RACV's car reversing index

General News logo31 Aug 2006

EVERY week in Australia, a child is run over in the driveway of their home, yet less than one per cent of the vehicles tested in this year’s RACV reversing visibility index survey received a maximum five-star rating.

The index, which measures how well a driver can see out the back of a car, revealed that a number of vehicles, especially family sedans, have hazardous reversing blind areas.

The RACV tested 270 vehicles and although the performance of family sedans is disappointing, the news was not all bad, according to RACV chief engineer, vehicles, Mr Michael Case.

"Car manufacturers Lexus, Mitsubishi, Toyota, BMW, Ford, Mercedes, Porsche, Volvo and Jeep have all installed reversing cameras in a number of their vehicles in an effort to prevent reversing incidents involving children," he said.

"Reversing cameras can greatly improve the driver’s visibility and we urge car manufacturers to consider the installation of this technology." The Lexus GS430 and the Ford Territory, the only tested vehicles to be awarded the maximum five-star rating, feature enhanced reversing visibility cameras where the rim of the bumper can be easily seen, providing more perspective for the driver.

Apart from the GS and Territory, the Lexus RX350 Luxury and Mitsubishi Pajero managed four-and-a-half stars, while the Mazda MX-5, Chrysler Crossfire and Proton Savvy all scored four stars.

Vehicles that received a zero rating in other segments were the Toyota RAV4, Toyota Prado 4WD, Mitsubishi 380, Mercedes CLK500, Honda Odyssey and Holden Viva five-door.

"Increasingly cameras are available in luxury vehicles and 4WD’s as a standard fitment, however manufacturers of family sedans are lagging," Mr Case said.

"Manufacturers using GPS systems in their vehicles should be including reversing technologies as a matter of course.

"The costs involved in installing a camera to a GPS system are minimal." Motorists did not have to buy a brand new car to get access to reversing camera technology, as retail products are available and can be easily retro-fitted to older vehicles, he said.

"Retro-fitting reversing cameras can result in improved visibility for many cars on our road today. A properly-installed camera could in fact give the driver the same visibility as a five-star car," Mr Case added.

Although car makers and the development of new technology played an important role in addressing the issue, the RACV believes improved driver behaviour and increased responsibility by parents and carers of children are important factors in reducing death and injury.

"Our experience tells us that even with the best reversing aids there is no substitute for adult supervision of children around cars," Mr Case said.

"Motorists also need to slow down and be very aware of what is going on around them, driving no faster than 5km/h when in reverse." The statistics are sobering.

More than a third of pedestrians aged under six that are killed in motor vehicle crashes were struck down ‘off road’ in yards, car parks and driveways.

The reversing visibility index is the world’s first such study.

It was developed by NRMA Insurance in October 2002 and featured 80 vehicles.

The RACV now participates in the survey, which features 270 vehicles including 4WDs, people movers, utilities and sport, luxury, large, medium, medium-small and small sedans.

This index has been developed to encourage motorists to compare the safety design features of vehicles.

It takes into account the visible area and distance across the rear of the vehicle and whether cameras and sensors have been installed.

Results are rated on a scale of zero to five stars, with a rating of five indicating better reversing visibility than all other vehicles.

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