Japan has just introduced a game changing law, that allows cameras to replaces the conventional external rear view mirror.
Since most of us can all probably remember, cars have always had external rear view mirrors. They in fact date all the way back to 1909, when a woman Dorothy Levitt, the first British woman racing driver, made it become a staple safety feature when she suggested it in her book The Woman and the Car. Only in 1978 did it become mandatory by law to have at least one external mirror.
Many concept cars such as BMW i8 Spyder (on the right) or the Open Vision GT (left) have ditched the external mirrors for a more sleek and streamlined appearance, but now Japan has changed the game and approved a law allowing rear view mirrors to be replaced by rear-facing cameras.
But are they better than mirrors?
In essence, cameras are a great idea. They don’t require much space, they don’t need to hang off the side of the car – thereby reducing drag, wind noise and potentially saving you money.
Rear view mirrors are susceptible to damage, so, with all the technology that goes into them nowadays, replacing one could cost you up to £500. But also depending on where the monitor is fitted, it could also reduce the amount of time a driver’s eyes are off the road.
Here are some more advantages of rear view cameras;
- Wider field vision – eliminating blind spots
- Potential 360 degree visibility
- Cameras can focus where you please
- Can aid in parking and maneuvering into tight spaces.
However, there are disadvantages that come with having rear view cameras. For one, how clear will the camera be when it’s raining? And other downsides such as;
- The lense need to stay clean and dirt free so you can see
- Electrical problems during a journey can leave you with no rearward visibility
- Going digital will mean some seriously pricey repairs
At the moment Japan is the currently the only country to have introduced this new law, so it may take a long time until we begin to see this new system on the road. If the technology improves and can be proven to be reliable and safe then we could see this change in the UK at some point in the future. But unfortunately not any time soon. Nevertheless, the idea is pretty awesome.