Inj Prev 16:79-84 doi:10.1136/ip.2009.021535
  • Original Article

Backing collisions: a study of drivers' eye and backing behaviour using combined rear-view camera and sensor systems

  1. Uwe Meissner4
  1. 1Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, USA
  2. 2University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, Massachusetts, USA
  3. 3Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
  4. 4Volkswagen of America, Inc, Fort Lee, New Jersey, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr David S Hurwitz, Oregon State University, 6300 Grand Oaks Drive, Apt B301, Corvallis, Oregon 97333, USA; david.hurwitz{at}
  1. Contributors All authors contributed substantially to all phases of the research including the development of experimental methodology, data analysis, conducting of experimental trials and documentation of results.

  • Accepted 28 October 2009


Context Backing crash injures can be severe; approximately 200 of the 2,500 reported injuries of this type per year to children under the age of 15 years result in death. Technology for assisting drivers when backing has limited success in preventing backing crashes.

Objectives Two questions are addressed: Why is the reduction in backing crashes moderate when rear-view cameras are deployed? Could rear-view cameras augment sensor systems?

Design 46 drivers (36 experimental, 10 control) completed 16 parking trials over 2  days (eight trials per day). Experimental participants were provided with a sensor camera system, controls were not. Three crash scenarios were introduced.

Setting Parking facility at UMass Amherst, USA.

Subjects 46 drivers (33 men, 13 women) average age 29 years, who were Massachusetts residents licensed within the USA for an average of 9.3  years.

Interventions Vehicles equipped with a rear-view camera and sensor system-based parking aid.

Main Outcome Measures Subject's eye fixations while driving and researcher's observation of collision with objects during backing.

Results Only 20% of drivers looked at the rear-view camera before backing, and 88% of those did not crash. Of those who did not look at the rear-view camera before backing, 46% looked after the sensor warned the driver.

Conclusions This study indicates that drivers not only attend to an audible warning, but will look at a rear-view camera if available. Evidence suggests that when used appropriately, rear-view cameras can mitigate the occurrence of backing crashes, particularly when paired with an appropriate sensor system.


  • Funding This research initiative was funded through the Center for Child Injury Prevention Studies (CChiIPS) at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. CChiIPS is a National Science Foundation-sanctioned consortium of companies and federal agencies working with the university faculty and students for the support and conduct of industry-related research.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the UMass Amherst Internal Review Board.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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