The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued a final rule to require all new vehicles under 10,000 pounds, including all cars, SUVs, vans, and trucks to have backup cameras by May 1, 2018. The backup cameras must have a 10-foot by 20-foot zone view behind the vehicle. The backup camera system will also be required to meet NHTSA requirements for "image size, linger time, response time, durability, and deactivation."
This new law will be saving lots of lives, mainly those of children. United States Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx explained that the official ruling came out of a concern for primarily child safety: "Safety is our highest priority, and we are committed to protecting the most vulnerable victims of backover accidents — our children and seniors. As a father, I can only imagine how heart wrenching these types of accidents can be for families, but we hope that today's rule will serve as a significant step toward reducing these tragic accidents."
There are an average 210 deaths and 15,000 injuries every year caused by back up crashes. Thirty-one precent of these deaths are children under five, and 26 percent of deaths are for people 70 and over. The NHTSA estimates that “58 to 69 lives are expected to be saved each year once the entire on-road vehicle fleet is equipped with rear visibility systems meeting the requirements of [this] final rule.”
The rule also satisfies the Cameron Gulsbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act of 2007, which covers vehicle safety for children through backup visibility, vehicle roll away, and a child safety program. Under this safety act, the NHTSA had 36 months from 2008 to issue a ruling on backup cameras, but this was delayed numerous times due to research and rule revision. Some believe the delay in the law came from the government being “reluctant to put more financial burdens on an auto industry already crippled by an economic downturn.” The cost for the cameras to automakers is about $132 to $142 per vehicle for a complete backup system, and $43 to $45 to add a camera to a vehicle that already has a screen.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says 73 percent of new vehicles were already projected to have backup cameras by 2018, as automakers have already embraced both the safety and coolness factors of this new technology. There's more than just easy parallel parking at stake.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.