On the heels of a study showing backup cameras save lives, the U.S. Department of Transportation laid out the standards requiring automakers to have cameras on all new vehicles by 2018.
The graduated requirement is for vehicles less than 10,000 pounds. In 2016, 10% of vehicles must have the cameras. That rises to 40% in 2017 and 100% in 2018.
“We are committed to protecting the most vulnerable victims of back-over accidents – our children and seniors,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement today.
“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.”
Setting rules for the phase-in of the cameras has been kicking around since 2010 when DOT proposed regulations for the devices.
Backup cameras are already found on many of the latest cars, trucks and crossovers – the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said today it expected that as many as 73% of all new vehicles would have had the cameras as standard equipment by 2018 regardless of the rule – has repeatedly delayed announcing formal rules that would make them mandatory – something Congress and President Bush authorized in 2007.
That’s despite NHTSA’s own estimate that the devices could save as many as 200 lives a year – including a large number of children under the age of five – inadvertently run over when motorists back up. Implementation of the mandate was repeatedly delayed by the Obama Administration due to concerns expressed by automakers about the costs associated with cameras.
“With or without the latest NHTSA mandate on rearview cameras, the clear trend is for manufacturers to include this safety feature as standard or optional on nearly every vehicle available in their lineup,” said Alec Gutierrez, senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book. “Consumers can expect to see the cost of entry for most models increase slightly; however, this is one case where the benefits clearly outweigh the cost.”
There are 210 fatalities and 15,000 injuries per year, on average, caused by back-overs, according to federal statistics. Children under 5 years old account for 31% of the fatalities each year, and adults 70 years of age and older account for 26%, the statistics show.
The rules require drivers to be able to see a 10-foot by 20-foot zone behind a vehicle. A camera system is the only way for automakers to comply with that requirement and separate standards for traits such as “image size.”
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NHTSA estimates that a full system, including a camera and a display screen, will cost $132 to $142 per vehicle for the 2018 model year. Installing a camera in a vehicle that already has a suitable display screen would cost $43 to $45, the agency noted, adding the total fleet costs are an estimated $546 million to $640 million in 2018.
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The issue of backup cameras came to the fore when after the DOT was sued by Dr. Greg Gulbransen and Susan Auriemma – two parents who lost or injured their children in backup accidents – Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Kids And Cars Inc., and the non-profit Consumers Union, the publisher of influential Consumer Reports magazine. The pair expressed satisfaction that the rule is in place.
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“It’s been a long fight, and this rule took too long, but we’re thrilled this day has finally come,” Gulbransen said in a statement. “It’s a bittersweet day, because this rule should have been in place three years ago at the latest. But this rule will save lives. Though his own life was short, Cameron inspired a regulation that will save the lives of countless others.”
Auriemma said in a statement that she was “not just happy for those who worked so hard in loving memory of the child they lost to the tragedy of a back-over crash, but for all those kids whose lives this rule will save going forward. This could not have come soon enough.”
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