Rear Cameras vs. Parking Sensors: Which One Should You Pick?
- on August 11, 2020
- Categories: Car Feature Articles
Although parking accidents are not usually hazardous, technological help can still be handy to park a car. No doubt, automated parking (parking assist) is a deal breaker, but it is not coming to budget cars any time soon. If you are on the lookout for tech to help you in parking, Rear Cameras and Parking Sensors are your best bet.
However, before I explain which one is better, let me tell you what they are and how they can help you. Rear cameras relay a live feed of your surroundings to your car’s in-dash navigation or your rearview mirror, depending on the camera’s settings. On the other hand, parking sensors use proximity sensors to alert you of obstacles near your vehicle while parking.
The utility of both systems varies, and the preference between them lies in the hands of the end-user. Both have inherent advantages and are a massive aid when compared to simple mirrors. However, some studies have shown that one of these is considerably better than the other system. So, without further ado, let us get into the features of both and then decide which one is the better option for you:
Rear cameras are beneficial for large vehicles, such as trucks and SUVs. These vehicles have several blind spots (areas not visible through mirrors) that eventually expose them to risks while parking. It is where rear cameras come on the scene.
Thanks to the real-time video you get inside your car, chances of bumping into an object (whether stationary or moving) are minimum. The rear cameras are typically placed above the licence plate in a downward-facing angle paired with a wide-angle lens, giving an almost complete view of your surroundings at the rear.
Moreover, the display of the camera’s feed can help you estimate your proximity to objects as well. The screen overlay is green when you are at a safe distance and turns red when you are dangerously close.
To top it off, the efficiency of a rear camera is genuinely fulfilled with a 360-degree setup, which uses multiple cameras to provide a bird’s eye view of your environment to you. Most vehicles that come with a 360-degree setup allow you to switch between the individual cameras as well, to get a better sense of your surroundings.
Automakers fit parking sensors in the bumpers of the car, and their functioning is somewhat straightforward. They use a radar system, sometimes coupled with electromagnetic sensors to estimate the nearness of objects. Subsequently, it gives you visual cues or beeping at an average or fast speed, depending on how close you are.
Usually, these sensors tend to beep when your car gets close to an obstacle. However, visual cues are becoming fairly common, as well. Visual cues are not reliable on their own, though, as they take your attention away from the mirrors and increase your risk of running into something, which brings us to the main disadvantage of parking sensors: the range.
The range of parking sensors is low, and this prevents them from warning the motorists of upcoming obstacles in time. It leads to increased chances of hitting an object. It is why experts recommend drivers to avoid dependence on parking sensors alone. I suggest you use the sensors as an aid, not as a replacement for mirrors!
Comparing the Two – the IIHS Study
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) is an independent research body in the United States of America that focuses on road safety. It conducted a study in 2014 comparing parking sensors, rear-view cameras, and simple mirrors.
The research had 11 volunteers simulating the conditions around a regular driveway. The placement of a mannequin in the path of the vehicle stimulated the environment of a typical household driveway. The results of using both of the technological aids together and individually, in addition to the use of just the mirrors, were shocking, to say the least.
When the mannequin was stationary, all of the cars without any technology hit it. Additionally, roughly 95% of cars with parking sensors and almost 56% of vehicles with a reverse camera hit it as well. When combined, 75% of vehicles with both a camera and the sensor hit the mannequin, too.
On the other hand, when the mannequin was moving/appeared to have jumped out in the path of the car, 13% of vehicles without any technology and with a camera rammed into it, 40% of vehicles with sensors ran into it, and less than 10% with both a sensor and a camera collided with it.
It shows that while both the systems help in their own ways, they are less effective when put together. Experts attribute this to the habit of drivers checking the camera even when they have sensors installed. Standalone sensors had a range of 8 feet, which rendered them incapable of detecting objects within a reasonable time.
I realize that the final decision falls upon each individual, but considering the pros and cons of both the features, I recommend you to go for a rear-view camera instead of parking sensors. The added usefulness of the camera overpowers the sensors, as a whole.