A study released by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety showed that rearview cameras were more effective in preventing reverse accidents than backup sensors, or even the combination of backup sensors and rearview cameras. And although trucks and SUVs get a bad rap for rear visibility, the study showed that, in some cases, midsize sedans were some of the worst in terms of rear visibility.
To simulate the presence of children behind the car, a pole painted with different bands representing the average height of 12-to-15-month-old, 2-3-year-old, and 5-6-year-old children was placed at various points behind the test vehicles to test visibility. Unsurprisingly, the bands representing the smaller children were harder to see. The study showed that, for the smallest children, sometimes the subjects had to be as far as 27 feet from the rear bumper to be clearly visible by a driver turning his head to reverse.
There was a general correlation between vehicle size and rear visibility, but in the case between the Hyundai Sonata and Ford F-150, the Sonata ironically had a 42-percent-larger blind spot area than the F-150, which was aided by large side mirrors. The test vehicle for SUVs was a 2013 Chevrolet Equinox, chosen for being the median vehicle in the SUV class in terms of rear visibility, being neither the worst nor the best.
The study had concerns about the effectiveness of rearview cameras in inclement weather and lighting, noting that objects that were covered by shadows were less visible to drivers. The study also showed drivers were four times more likely to hit a stationary than moving object.