Are Backup Cameras Required in New Vehicles?

Last Updated on March 18, 2023

The United States has required backup cameras on all new vehicles since May 1, 2018.

If you are buying a new car in the United States, then that vehicle is required to have a backup camera. The United States requires backup cameras to reduce the risk of death and injury when backing up – particularly in incidents involving children and seniors.

Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about backup camera requirements in new vehicles in the United States.

The United States Has Required Backup Cameras in New Vehicles Since May 1, 2018

Starting on May 1, 2018, all new vehicles sold in the United States must have backup cameras.

If you are buying a new vehicle in the United States, then that vehicle must come with a backup camera. The vehicle must also have a video display showing live footage from the backup camera.

The United States passed this law for public safety. Many people, including children and seniors, were being injured or killed from preventable accidents involving reversing cars.

The rear of a vehicle is a significant blind spot. No matter how much you should check, you cannot see the area directly behind your vehicle’s bumper. The only way to solve that problem is with a backup camera.

Do Insurers Offer a Discount for Backup Cameras?

No major insurance company in the United States offers a discount for backup cameras.

Backup cameras can reduce the risk of accidents. They can also reduce your chances of being liable in an accident involving injury or death. Both of these things mean cheaper costs for your insurer.

Despite these advantages, no insurer in the United States offers a discount for having a backup camera.

However, all insurers consider accident rates for specific makes and models of vehicles before assessing premiums. Some vehicles have consistently low accident rates and injury rates, and insurers may charge lower rates for these vehicles. Because of this system, you may receive an indirect discount for having a backup camera.

Installing your Own DIY Backup Camera

If you drive an older vehicle, then that vehicle may not have a backup camera. Instead, you may want to install your own backup camera.

Fortunately, there are several DIY backup camera options available today. Long before backup cameras laws were enacted, drivers were installing backup cameras for safety reasons.

When shopping for backup cameras, consider features like the following:

  • Screen size and location
  • Additional viewing angles and viewing modes
  • Camera resolution
  • Sound and light alerts
  • Lens position and cleaning options

Buy a DIY backup camera today to make your vehicle safer without buying a new vehicle. Garmin and other major brands all offer backup cameras.

Cars Kill 200 People Per Year Backing Up

Backover crashes kill more than 200 people annually and injure more than 12,000.

Because of these statistics, advocates have pushed for backup camera laws for years.

In 2008, Congress passed a law requiring regulators to enact measures exploring the use of technology to improve visibility behind a vehicle. It wasn’t until ten years later, however, that backup camera laws would officially take effect.

The Department of Transportation announced the future backup camera requirements starting in 2014, giving automakers several years to prepare for the change.

Before the passage of the law, many vehicles included backup cameras as a default option or luxury safety package. It was a standard feature on high-end vehicles, for example.

Today, even the cheapest new cars are required to have backup cameras.

How Backup Cameras Work

Backup cameras work by delivering a live feed of the area behind your vehicle to a screen mounted on your dashboard. They give drivers a clear, live look at the large blind spot behind their rear bumper – an area that you cannot check from the driver’s seat of a vehicle.

Backup cameras are horizontally flipped to give a mirror image of the area behind a vehicle, making it easier for drivers to process information from the camera and steer correctly. Most backup cameras also use a wide-angle lens or fisheye lens to give a larger field of view.

Most backup cameras automatically sense when the vehicle is in reverse, then immediately begin displaying a live feed to a screen within the vehicle. When you are no longer in reverse, the camera deactivates or folds back within the vehicle, displaying a default screen on your display.

Final Word

The United States has required backup cameras on all new vehicles sold in the country since May 1, 2018.

Whether you’re buying a luxury car or an economy car, your new car will have a backup camera and a monitor to display a live feed from that backup camera.

Backup cameras improve safety and reduce risk. However, no major insurance company currently offers a discount for having a backup camera.

James Shaffer
James Shaffer James Shaffer is a writer for and a well-seasoned auto insurance industry veteran. He has a deep knowledge of insurance rules and regulations and is passionate about helping drivers save money on auto insurance. He is responsible for researching and writing about anything auto insurance-related. He holds a bachelor's degree from Bentley University and his work has been quoted by NBC News, CNN, and The Washington Post.
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