Auto-Lobbyists Successfully Argue Worth of Child Warrants Delaying Regulation Requiring All Vehicles Include A Rear Backup Camera
On Monday of last week it was reported that Federal regulators planned to announce this week that automakers will be required to put rearview cameras with in-vehicle display in all passenger vehicles by 2014 to help drivers see what is behind them and avoid accidents. By Wednesday the plans were put on hold to allow more time for “study and data analysis”. Auto-lobbyists estimated that the required cameras would cost the auto industry $2.7 billion annually, or $160 to $200 a vehicle. They suggested car manufacturers be able to add expanded mirrors instead of the cameras. If that would be good enough and economically feasible, where has the auto industry been all this time?
On average, two children die and about 50 are injured every week when someone accidentally backs over them in a vehicle, according to KidsAndCars.org, a nonprofit group that pushed the government to begin tracking such tragedies. And more than two-thirds of the time, a parent or other close relative is behind the wheel.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) estimates about 300 pedestrians a year are killed in back-overs, half of them children. Regulators say that 95 to 112 deaths and as many as 8,374 injuries could be avoided each year by eliminating the wide blind spot behind a vehicle. Government statistics indicate that 228 people of all ages — 44 percent of whom are under age 5 — die every year in backover accidents involving passenger vehicles. About 17,000 people a year are injured in such accidents.
The discussion about mandating backup cameras stems from a 2008 law, the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act, that required the NHTSA to set standards for rear visibility, which had never been regulated.
I wonder whether mandating backup cameras goes far enough. From my experience, both a backup camera and sensors in the rear (and front) fenders that sound an alarm when the vehicle gets too close to an object are more effective that just a mirror. When you hear the alarm you stop the vehicle immediately, and then check to see what set the alarm off. With a mirror only you may continue to move while you try to figure out what the object is you are seeing and exactly where it is in relation to the vehicle. That few extra moments of movement can mean the difference between life and death.
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