Backup Camera Laws in Tennessee

When a driver is backing their vehicle up, they must take precautions to ensure that they do not strike any other vehicles or pedestrians who may be behind them. According to the Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security, there have been more than 40,000 improper backing crashes in the state over the last decade. All new vehicles in the United States are required to have backup cameras installed. Here, we want to review the benefits of this safety device as well as some of the risks associated with backup cameras.

Are backup cams mandatory in Tennessee?

According to a study by the Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), backup collisions result in approximately 300 deaths and around 18,000 injuries in the US each year. Backup cameras, it could be assumed, would help lower these numbers.

Most people are familiar with backup cameras at this point. These devices include a tiny camera that is mounted on the rear of the vehicle that engages when the vehicle is put into reverse. Video footage is then sent to a screen on the dashboard so the driver can view the path directly behind them. Some systems are more advanced than others, and also include alarm bells that chime when vehicles are approaching from any direction.

The debate about whether or not to mandate backup cameras in vehicles in the United States has been going on since the early 2000s. In 2014, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that all vehicles built beginning in May 2018 must have backup cameras installed.

However, neither federal law or Tennessee laws require that vehicles built before this date have backup cameras installed. While it is certainly possible for vehicle owners to purchase and install aftermarket backup cameras, it is not a requirement that they do so.

Do backup cameras prevent accidents?

Along with other driver-assisted technologies, the NHTSA says that backup cameras are a “lifesaving technology.” One study conducted by there IIHS shows that backup cameras helped reduce blind zones in tested vehicles. This is the area directly behind a vehicle that a driver is not able to see directly or through their mirrors.

Many people were against the mandate of backup cameras. Some skeptics of whether these devices help pointed to a NHTSA study from 2008 to 2011 that showed the number of vehicles with backup cameras installed during that period doubled, yet the amount of traffic injuries dropped only 8%.

However, during that same time period, the fatality rate dropped by 31%. While the total number of backup collision fatalities is relatively small compared to the overall traffic fatality rate, many lives could be saved each year if every vehicle on the roadway had a backup camera.

The reality of backup cameras

As with any driver-assisted technology, vehicle drivers must still be completely focused on their surroundings when they are on the roadway. These technologies are not meant to replace driver actions. A backup camera is a valuable tool that should be used in conjunction with side mirrors, rearview mirrors, and a driver checking their surroundings to ensure they have a clear pathway behind them. If a driver begins to rely too much on technology, including a backup camera, they will be more likely to cause an accident. If you’ve been in a car crash in Tennessee, reach out to our experienced Nashville car accident lawyers to help you navigate the legal process.