Backup Camera Rule Delayed

A federal rule mandating all new vehicles sold in the U.S. must have a backup camera is being pushed back until the end of 2015. In a letter to Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D, WV), Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood stated that additional cost analysis is needed.

Rockefeller responded, “I am deeply disappointed by the Administration’s foot dragging over a rule that could help save the lives of hundreds of young children and prevent thousands of heartbreaking injuries.”

Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act of 2007

The Gulbransens' toddler was killed when he wandered behind an SUV.
The Gulbransens’ toddler was killed when he wandered behind an SUV.

The rule was required by the safety law named for a toddler who died after his father accidentally backed over him. Signed into law by President George W. Bush, the Act directed the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to issue standards that would lead to safety technologies on all autos. Included were provisions for a rear-visibility standard, brake-shift precautions, and the evaluation of power window sensors.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSB) proposed the backup camera mandate to satisfy the rear-visibility standard in 2010. This marks the fourth time the agency has delayed the rule’s starting date, most recently missing a Dec. 31 deadline. According to the Detroit News, backup cameras are already available on 80 percent of new vehicles, but only come standard on about half.

Auto Industry Balks at Price

Automakers have complained that the rule is too expensive and should not apply to all vehicles.  Regulators predicted it will cost around $160 to $200 year to implement, or as much as $2.7 billion a year. The New York Times reported last year that although SUVs and trucks are involved in many back-over incidents, “some of the biggest blind spots are actually on passenger cars where the trunk has a high deck lid and the driver sits low to the ground.”

According to the NHTSB, there were 202 back-over deaths and 14,000 back-over injuries last year. Half of those deaths involved children under 5 years old. The DOT estimates the measure would prevent 95 to 112 fatalities and 7,072 to 8,374 injuries annually. Reports indicate the delay will mean that backup camera rules aren’t likely to take effect before the 2017 model year – which could cost hundreds of children their lives.

Do you think all cars should be required to have a backup camera?

Will more high-tech options increase safety or cause drivers to become complacent, relying on their car to tell them what to do? Only time will tell.

Please share your thoughts on advanced automotive safety systems by commenting below.

 

Sources:

“U.S. delays rear camera rules as much as 18 monthsby David Shepardson, The Detroit News, June 20, 2013.

U.S. Rule Set for Cameras at Cars’ Rear” by Nick Bunkley, The New York Times, February 27, 2012.

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