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Rear view camera systems and winter driving

Leeanna McLean
Digital Reporter

Sunday, November 19, 2017, 1:24 PM - An alarming number of pedestrian fatalities in 2016 contributed in part to a decision backed by Canadian police and Transport Canada to make back-up cameras mandatory in all new vehicles starting in May 2018.

According to Sgt. Kerry Schmidt, spokesperson for the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) highway safety division, the number of deaths reached an eight-year high in 2016, with 30 reported between Jan. 1, and Nov. 13, 2016. This number is 66 per cent higher than during the same period in 2015, when 18 pedestrian fatalities occurred.

Visit our Complete Guide to Winter 2017/18 for tips on how to to survive it, and much more.

While winter approaches and there are fewer hours of daylight, one may assume that a significant contributing factor in these fatalities is darkness. However, the OPP say of the 30 pedestrian deaths this year, 65 per cent of them happened during daylight conditions, with only seven per cent occurring in the dark. The remaining 28 per cent took place at either dawn or dusk.

"One of the things that we recognize and we try to get this message out as well, is most collisions occur in daylight conditions, in good weather, blue skies and dry roads," says Sgt. Ryan Snow of Halton Regional Police's traffic services unit. "So, the collisions that occur are essentially uniform across the months on the calendar. Our statistics indicate that there is as many collisions that occur in the summertime as in the wintertime."

However, dry roads and clear skies is not a recipe for speeding, adds Sgt. Snow.

"You need to follow the speed limit, observe all of the traffic laws and make sure you are prepared for the driving maneuver that you are about to handle."


Of the total number of collisions reported in Halton Region, about 5.5 per cent involved a reversing maneuver, according to Sgt. Snow.

Meanwhile, Transport Canada estimates between 2004 and 2009 back-up incidents killed 27 people and injured over 1,500. The department says the back-up camera requirement brings Canadian standards in line with those in the United States and the ruling is important because children, disabled persons and the elderly are vulnerable to reversing collisions.

"This helps children to be seen and provides Canadians with one of the best safety technology systems to reduce back-over collisions," Transport Minister Marc Garneau said in a statement.

Ford of Canada has made rear-view camera systems standard in some of their key nameplates including, the Focus, Fusion, Mustang and Taurus.

"This is a key feature that customers first of all really love, and could really benefit them in the winter," says Fred Garzon, assistant product marketing manager with Ford of Canada. "The reverse sensors are designed to detect an open parking spot. So, if there is a snow pile, the system will detect that and not allow you to back into it. The camera allows for great visibility as long as the lens is clean and it's a great guide to see what exactly is behind the vehicle."

Snow, ice and salt residue can easily cover the camera lens. However, Ford has introduced tiny nozzles that release a high-pressure stream of the same washer fluid used to clean your windshield.

In some Ford vehicles like the F150, the rear-view camera allows for a full 360-degree view. Other driving assistance technologies include: a blind spot information system, cross traffic alert and intelligent all wheel drive system.

"We have the intelligent all wheel drive system in our Fusion. It's mostly front wheel drive, but if it senses that a wheel slips, then it transfers up to 100 per cent of the power to the wheel that has more traction," says Garzon.

However, while all of these technologies will definitely assist in creating a safer environment for both motorists and pedestrians, Sgt. Snow says the most critical part of any motor vehicle on the roadway is the driver.

"It definitely is always a benefit for the public to have the equipment in your vehicle, but from a policing perspective when we do investigate a traffic collision, I'm not going to be looking at the equipment in your vehicle as to whether or not it's at fault if you end up in a collision. At the end of the day our expectations of a motorist's actions do not change based on the vehicle."


WATCH BELOW: Testing autonomous vehicles in the snow

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