Cars get safer all the time, and one of the most popular safety features on many new cars these days is the backup camera. But although these are becoming more common, you might not actually know how to use yours properly.

Here’s a mini guide for any drivers who are new to backup cameras so you can use yours correctly and safely.

Know How Your Camera Works

Backup cameras help to reduce back-over crashes where a vehicle reverses and hits someone. They can also help to prevent you from rolling over items like bikes and skateboards, which can cause damage to your car as well as the item in question.

But the first thing to know about them is that they are all different. Each model of car will have a backup camera that works slightly differently to other models, so it’s important to become familiar with your backup camera on your vehicle. For example, the backup camera in your new Dodge Charger may be very different from the one in your last vehicle.

Read the manual as soon as you get your new vehicle, and practice using the backup camera. Use it in your drive and make sure there are no hazards in the way, and also use it to park your car. Get a feel for it and become comfortable with it.

Always Check Behind You

A backup camera is never a substitute for physically checking for obstacles outside your vehicle. It can be a useful extra check, but you should always look around the back of your vehicle before you get into it.

Also, there is often still a blind spot below the bumper of the vehicle even when you are using the camera, so keep this in mind.

Look Around You While Reversing

Look over both of your shoulders before starting the vehicle and check your side mirrors as well. Also, make sure you look at the camera and around you as you start reversing to be sure that there are no hazards in your way.

Clean Your Camera

A dirty camera will prevent you from seeing obstacles clearly, so make sure you clean yours regularly. This is especially important during the winter where snow and dirt can make your camera dirty.

Always Get it Fixed if Your Camera Stops Working

If you notice that your camera is not working properly or the image looks strange, always get it checked out because the camera may be damaged. This is especially true if you are involved in any collision, even a small one.

Use Your Camera as An Extra Security Feature

Backup cameras are very useful, and they can help to reduce accidents as well as reducing the chances that you roll over an item and cause damage to it or your vehicle. As a result, they are a very popular feature in new cars.

But remember that the backup camera is only an added safety feature, and it never makes up for poor driving. So always check around your vehicle before getting into it, and look around you at all times so you are aware of any hazards when you start driving. That’s the way to ensure you stay safe when you are behind the wheel.