For the second time, the release of a final rule that would mandate the installation of rearview cameras in all new vehicles has been delayed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The final safety rule, which was to be announced in late February 2012, is now expected to be released by December 31, 2012.
The Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act of 2007 — named for a 2-year-old child who was tragically killed in a car accident when his father accidentally backed over him in the family’s driveway — required NHTSA to provide a final rule addressing rearview safety and blind spots behind vehicles by the end of 2011. And, a 2010 proposal provided a glimpse of what the NHTSA’s final rule may include.
The rule is intended to help alleviate the blind spot that is located directly behind every vehicle. This spot is not visible either through the use of mirrors or by the driver turning to look out the rear window. NHTSA has indicated that it may require all automobile manufacturers to install rearview cameras in all vehicles beginning in the 2014 model year.
According to the nonprofit safety advocate group KidsandCars, during a typical week, 50 children are injured and two more are killed when they are accidentally backed over. NHTSA estimates that backup accidents are responsible for 292 deaths and approximately 18,000 injuries per year.
When the NHTSA proposed its first draft of the rule in 2010, the agency estimated that installing rearview cameras would save nearly 150 lives per year. This would cut the number of deaths from backup accidents nearly in half.
Cost of the Rule
If implemented, NHTSA estimates that a final rule requiring the installation of rearview cameras would cost the automobile industry between $1.9 billion and $2.7 billion. The cost to consumers would be roughly $58 to $203 per vehicle, depending on the technology already installed in the vehicle. (Some vehicles already have viewing screens as part of their navigation systems.)
When announcing the second delay to the pronouncement of the final rule, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood stated that “further research and data analysis” was needed. Regulators still need to work out details such as the size of the area behind the vehicle that needs to appear on the viewing screen and how quickly an image of the area behind the vehicle must appear on the screen once the vehicle is shifted into reverse.
The announcement by Secretary LaHood only serves to delay this much-needed safety rule. The rule is coming soon, and it should save lives.