Backup Camera

I bought a car 18 months ago, and to me it’s still my new car.  It will be another 3-4 years before I start think of it as a not so new car and likely a decade before I consider it “old.”

I tend to keep cars for a long time.  My truck was 21 years old when I finally sent it to the salvage yard and my last car was 16 years old when I gave it to my grandson.

I adopt new things slowly.

Like the backup camera in my new car.  It’s really cool, but I don’t use it much.  There’s an audible alarm when another car or person gets close so I always know when it’s clear to backup.  Then there are the lines on the screen that show where the car is going and how far you are from whatever is behind you.  It’s a great system – you could just throw the car in reverse, look at the screen and know when it’s safe to move and exactly where you’re going.

Frankly, I don’t trust it.  The screen is small and hard to see with my sunglasses on.  I don’t drive at night much so I almost always have my sunglasses on.  I’m farsighted and without my reading glasses on, some things in the car are a touch blurry.  A few years ago I did get prescription sunglass so there is a reading bifocal, but I have to tilt my head at awkward angles to read anything through them. Using the backup camera becomes this strange dance of me moving my head around until I get the little screen in focus and remembering that the little chirping sound means to apply the brakes.

I’m convinced that car designers are young people with perfect vision and fast reflexes.  If designers were half blind, almost deaf, slowly reacting people like me, the chirping noise would be heard 100 feet from the car and the camera screen would be three feet wide and would flip up from the car hood near the front bumper.  Then, I’d be able to clearly see it.

Looking at the camera screen also reminds me of playing a video game.  It feels a bit unreal and I’m not 100% sure that the image on the screen is really the scene behind my car so I often look at the screen and then out the window just to make sure the screen is showing what is really out there.  I mean the car has like 50 microcomputers running things and how do I know for sure that these computers are really running in real time and not showing me something that happened five minutes ago?  It could just be showing me some random test pattern for all I know.

I know that sounds strange, but I used to be a software engineer and I know how badly data streams can be delayed, mangled or otherwise corrupted.  It can be a bit scary when I’m driving 65 mph down the highway.

Now, I’m not saying I don’t trust all the new fancy gadgets in my car, the adaptive cruise control and GPS stuff is really nice.  So is the Apple CarPlay that lets me use voice commands make a phone call or read and send text messages. 

The getting directions feature of CarPlay is useful and fun.  One fun game I like to play with the car is to ask it for directions to someplace and then purposely go a different direction just so I can hear it trying to convince me to make a u-turn.

But that’s a different post. 

About Andrew Reynolds

Born in California Did the school thing studying electronics, computers, release engineering and literary criticism. I worked in the high tech world doing software release engineering and am now retired. Then I got prostate cancer. Now I am a blogger and work in my wood shop doing scroll saw work and marquetry.
This entry was posted in General and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to Backup Camera

  1. I don’t trust mine either! The screen’s too dim when the sun strikes it, and I have no faith in those red lines if they’re not my own. My son has a factory-fitted brake override. He tells me he still gets palpitations when it cuts in.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We refer to our GPS as in car entertainment.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. FranknBeans says:

    Caution though.
    If it goes out (electronics).
    The replacement from a dealer is the best way to go but it is pricey. That viewing screen is buried in the center of the dash. Then there’s integration and re-calibration required with the replacement equipment. Didn’t appear to be a home repair to me so opened my wallet bc “best thing since microwaves”.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. FranknBeans says:

    I meant to comment earlier on this.
    I have some slight but lingering neck pains. Our new(er) car’s backup camera was a bonus for me in not having the need to “crank head” around to view first hand (own eyes) what I’m about to run to over. It’s fun to watch the neighbors eyes open wide in the camera as I barrel down the driveway in reverse – get off my lawn – no I don’t!! :- )

    I still check all the mirrors because of the memorable lectures from my old HS driving instructor. But rarely do I turn my head around thanks to the camera. Do driving instructors still insist on turning your head around before reversing if the auto is equipped with a camera?

    In my lifetime, microwave ovens and backup cameras are my two favorite inventions.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dave says:

    Great post, Andrew, and good on you for mastering a few voice commands. My Acura has voice control but I can’t seem to get over my preference for pushing dashboard buttons. Ditto the back up camera. My kids wonder what the big deal is but I think our generation is caught between how we used to back up and how we’re supposed to back up now. You can’t trust something you haven’t used day in and day out, esp. in the name of safety. I’ll continue to use the mirrors and look over my shoulder. The camera’s usually dusty from our dirt roads anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I was slow to adopt the backup camera feature in my new (okay, 5 years old now) car, too. Like you, I still don’t completely trust it; but I have figured out how to use it to flawlessly parallel park. But I don’t think I’ll ever just back up without cranking myself around to peer behind me. I just don’t trust computers that much!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Debra says:

    I don’t have a backup camera in my car, but my daughter does. She is so adept at using it and I study it as she does, with full knowledge that if I were driving, I don’t think I would use it. We do keep our cars a long time, too. Eventually, when we do purchase new, I’ll have to adjust to more bells and whistles!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Baydreamer says:

    What a fun post! We keep our cars for a long time too. We had a truck for 18 years and our Honda Pilot is 12 years old. My Honda CRV was 15 years old and ready to retire. So, I retired “her” last year and bought a leased vehicle 3 years old, so new to me. The backup camera felt like a strange phenomenon at first, but now I’m used to it. Although, I still look over my shoulders. But with the newer cars, you can’t always see, hence, the backup camera. 🙂 The guy who sold us the car told us that we’re not buying a car, we’re buying a computer. There ya go!
    Anyway, I understand how you feel. My husband will feel the same way when he retires the Pilot.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My wife and I decided to get new cars at the same time and both got similar models. It’s made the learning curve easy. We gave our “old” cars to grandkids which can be odd to drive to their house and see my old car sitting in the driveway.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. My car is 18 years old and has no backup cameras. I dread the next car. Fun post, Andrew.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Our “new” car is over a year old now and I STILL don’t know what half the gadgets are on it. And that’s so obvious that even our grandchild said to me, “Nana, are you sure you know how to drive this car?”

    Liked by 1 person

  11. jfwknifton says:

    You may be right about young people. My daughter has those aids to reverse parking in her car and she finds it really helps her a lot with a skill she has found difficult to master. Myself, I don’t trust it!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Pied Type says:

    My car’s 10 years old, still less than 20,000 miles on it, and paid for. I’d love to have some of the new safety features, but it seems silly to incur a new car payment for that reason alone. Obviously I don’t drive that much. Even less since I started having groceries delivered last year.

    Liked by 1 person

    • When we bought our new cars (Heather got one too), we paid cash for one and did payments for the other. We’re thinking these might be the last cars we need to buy. I never understood why some people always seem to be buying new cars. If you have one that runs, that’s good enough.


  13. Marlapaige says:

    “the chirping noise would be heard 100 feet from the car and the camera screen would be three feet wide and would flip up from the car hood near the front bumper.”

    I flat out LOVED this. I don’t have any bells and whistles on my car – it’s 21 years old. It goes forward and backwards and stops when I want it to. The closest I get to a backup camera is turning around or using a *gasp* mirror. CarPlay, GPS and radio are all my phone plugged in through a blue tooth adapter. My Adaptive Cruise Control is either my foot or the “click the button manually then set the speed you want me to stay at until you slam the breaks because I don’t adapt to anything. I just go.” My ex had one of the fancy SUVs with all the noises and blinking and what-not. It was fine (I didn’t love it) until it decided I wasn’t staying in my lane properly and pulled the wheel out of my hand then the GPS fired up automatically and told me where the nearest coffee shop was. I was neither in the mood for coffee or in the mood to fight a car for control while I was driving. I pulled over and turned all that nonsense off and got to where I was going. I forgot to turn it all back on so he was mad that his car wasn’t singing the song of chirps and beeps with correlating Christmas Light shows just to prove it’s chirping and beeping point. But, I digress. Those are awesome features for some people at some times. It’s great on the open road when you can put on some great music, pop on the ACC, and just drive 200 miles without a problem. Not so great when you’re stuck in rush-hour traffic, everyone is angry and cutting you off, you’re annoyed and mostly tailgating at 4 mph so that other guy can’t figure out a way to cut you off, and you just want to be home. That’s when you want to smash your foot through the next thing that chirps, beeps, blinks, or otherwise does anything other than exist.

    One of the many reasons I have postponed getting a new car. Between my dislike of cars trying to tell me what to do (I’d be more inclined if the warnings sounded like William Daniels), and the fact that turning all that stuff off takes FOREVER, it’s just easier to keep my old car going. But soon, I will be forced to get a new one…. and by then, they will probably also fly. Can you imagine your GPS telling you to do a U-Turn in the sky? That’s terrifying.

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.