Rear backup cameras to become standard on all vehicles

Long-awaited safety rule announced by government

Published: March 31, 2014 03:00 PM

After years of delay, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has announced a final rule that would require automakers to install rear-visibility technology in all vehicles by May 2018. In many vehicles, this technology will take the form of a rear-view camera.

The aim of the rule is to expand a driver’s field of view to help her detect areas behind the vehicle in an effort to reduce death and injury resulting from backover incidents. NHTSA is requiring the view from the rear-visibility technology be a 10-foot by 20-foot zone directly behind the vehicle. There are other requirements, including image size, linger time, response time, durability, and deactivation for these systems. 

Each year, there are 210 individuals killed and 15,000 injured by vehcles backing over them, according to NHTSA. Thirty-one percent of those killed are children under 5 years old; 26 percent are people over age 70. Even when drivers use all three mirrors on their car, they cannot often see a blind zone several feet high directly behind.

NHTSA expects that 58 to 69 lives will be saved each year once the entire fleet is equipped with the rear-visibility technology announced in this final rule.

This rear-visibility rule has not been without controversy. Congress mandated it in 2008, but it had been repeatedly delayed. Last fall, in an effort to push the standard along, Consumer Reports, through its Consumers Union policy and advocacy arm, joined safety advocates in filing a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Transportation asking a court to order the agency to promptly issue the safety rule.

Ellen Bloom, senior director of federal policy at Consumers Union, said: “This rule is going to make a profound difference in public safety, especially for children. We thank the Administration for finalizing the rule, which will help save lives and prevent injuries. This day has been a long time coming, and we urge automakers to move quickly to beat the 2018 deadline."

Many automakers have already been putting backup cameras in cars in response to consumer demand for this valued safety and convenience feature.

Liza Barth

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