The real issue has little to do with the advantages or disadvantages of whether the rear view access is a hard mirror/s or a digital process, rather the horrible blind spots that exists for drivers.
For as long as memory serves motor vehicles have had a driver’s side door mirror and a central inside the front windscreen rear view mirror. In more recent decades a left hand front rear view door mirror has been included with most new motor vehicle sales. Some manufacturers still have the left hand side door rear view mirror as an optional extra for which the purchaser pays additional money.
Some vehicles today even have their dash board information such as the speedometer thrown up on the windscreen in colour for the benefit of the driver in order not to have to keep dropping one’s eyes from the road to check the speed.
This simply illustrates the changing nature of the digital age impinging on every area of technology associated with our transport convenience, the motor car: whether it be for the family or for business use.
The idea is overdue
Therefore the move toward the digital in other areas of the motor vehicle is not surprising at all, and some would suggest it has been long overdue. For example, the humble wrist watch moved to a digital numbering screen as far back as the seventies.
And what about the Mercedes Benz in the sixties as one example, which had a speedometer that was displayed by the “mercury” rather than a dial and speed hand, and in more recent decades a digital number on the dash board. The 1992 Ford Fairmont for example, had the digital number for the speedometer.
Therefore a digital rear view mirror system has in some sense been long overdue. Having said this, it must be remembered that some vehicles as an optional extra, already have a digital video showing the view from the rear of the vehicle as a family safety issue. Statistics illustrate an alarming rate of infants being run over by the family vehicle when reversing.
A digital rear view mirror therefore sounds as if it is the answer to all these issues, however the question of the ‘blind spot’ remains an open one.
What is the blind spot?
The blind spot is the bane for all drivers and so many accidents or near misses occur because of the blind spot.
The blind spot for drivers occurs both on the right and left hand sides of your motor vehicle. Some recent innovations of hard mirrors have tied to alleviate the blind spot but even these have not solved the overall problem.
The rear view mirrors miss a critical point on both the right and left hand sides of your motor vehicle. They are slightly different.
The right hand side blind spot is when a following vehicle on the right side of your motor vehicle is adjacent to your vehicle's back seat‘s window. Drivers learn to do a quick check by turning the head to ensure no vehicle is there in that blind spot when changing to the right lane or wishing to overtake on a dual lane road.
The left hand blind spot is a little further back than the back seat window and when the following vehicle is a little further to the left than in the normal routine of driving. This becomes very important when changing lanes from the right land back into the left land and every driver has learnt to do a quick check prior to making that lane change.
A digital mirror process may be able to cover these areas if there are digital cameras somewhere on each side of the roof near the front of the vehicle and those images displayed in special sections at either end of the digital mirror inside the car.
The test will be when the ‘every-man’ version becomes the regular process for all motor vehicles. Moreover there is no better place to test such a digital mirror than in the church car park Sunday mornings (arriving and departing)!
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html