I take driving very seriously. Automobiles can cause unimaginable accidents in a split-second, so I think everyone should approach driving with a little healthy anxiety. I’m very conscious of pedestrians while I’m driving, especially if there are children in the area – kids are often innocently oblivious to traffic, so it’s important to be as diligent as possible in case a child darts out in front of your car. I’m also aware of this when putting my car into reverse, since you never know when a pedestrian might be walking behind you – or, in a rural area like this, you might even have an opossum or raccoon skulk behind your car! No matter how much I look over my shoulder and in my mirrors, I never feel comfortable with what I can see; my “Blind spot” is probably the most unsettling aspect of driving for me.
And I’m not alone: Back-up safety is a prime concern for parents, since we all worry about little ones walking unseen behind a reversing car in a parking lot. There is currently a lawsuit being filed against the Department of Transportation regarding a 2008 law involving visibility standards and backup cameras; but if you’re concerned about visibility in your car, did you know that there’s something you can do about it right now?
When I learned about a product called the PEAK Back-Up Camera, I thought it was brilliant: This is a standalone camera and LCD screen that you can install in any vehicle. I test-drove a new car that had a backup camera a few years back and I thought it was awesome, but I assumed it was something you could only have if you bought a brand new car. It never occurred to me that you could pick up the unit by itself! I received a PEAK Back-Up Camera in the mail and was really happy at the prospect of better vehicle visibility.
I assigned the task of installation to Jai, who enjoys tinkering with electronics and cars. We had two main options for this camera: We could either put it in Jai’s 2002 Pontiac Grand AM, or in his Grandma’s 2002 Bravada. The PEAK Back-Up Camera mounts above the license plate, then transmits information wirelessly to the water-resistant LCD color monitor, which can be mounted on the windshield and gets its power by plugging into your cigarette lighter. Here’s a how-to video that outlines the process:
Depending on the type of car you are installing this in, it can either be an easy breezy 15 minute installation, or wind up being a project not for the faint of heart. Both the cars we considered for this fell into the latter category; ultimately, Jai thought it would be best to put it in the Bravada. What made this more complicated for us was the fact that Jai had to drill through a layer of plastic above the license plate in order to install the camera. In the Bravada, this involved removing the hatch liner. He took a series of photos documenting the installation to give us a visual of how the process was for him – I’ve captioned each one, so that you will know what you’re looking at:
Once the camera was installed, you couldn’t see where the hole had been drilled – it’s totally hidden, so it looks really nice. Here is the finished camera installation:
This is the camera on the windshield:
The camera is AWESOME! It works really well – it only activates when you put the car into reverse, so it’s not running constantly. It really helps get a picture of what’s behind you, as you can see from this photo, taken from our driveway. I know something like this helps me feel like I’ve got an extra set of eyes – we thought this would be especially great for Grandma, since SUVs have even more blind spots than smaller cars. She’s not sure how she will like driving with the wire hanging down from the windshield to the cigarette lighter – this isn’t a problem for Jai or I, so if she doesn’t warm to it we’ll go ahead and put it in our car. Now that we know the “Drill” for installing it – pun fully intended – it might not be as challenging next time. If your vehicle is designed in a way where you do not have to drill a hole to connect the camera wire, then this will be a piece of cake.
The PEAK Back-Up camera retails for $93.17 and can be purchased at Walmart, auto retailers and online – for more information on PEAK’s line of automotive products as well as their store locator, be sure to visit PeakAuto.com.
Do you have a back-up camera in your car?