NHTSA to Require Backup Cameras on Most New Vehicles by 2018

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced today that it will require automakers to equip most new consumer and commercial vehicles with backup cameras by May 2018.  The new regulation will require the devices be installed on all new passenger vehicles including minivans and SUVs, as well as some new trucks and commercial busses.

Although the NHTSA has recommended that backup cameras be included as standard equipment for some time, it has been hesitant to require automakers to provide them.  According to the agency, nearly 210 backover deaths occur in the U.S. every year.  Approximately one third of those deaths are among children, many of whom are accidentally backed over by their parents.  Seniors also account for a large percentage of backover deaths each year.  The agency estimates that the new regulation will reduce the number of backover deaths by 59 to 69 annually.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said, “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.”

In addition to reducing the number of backover deaths, the NHTSA is also touting the added convenience backup cameras will provide when drivers are attempting to back into tight parking spaces and maneuver their vehicles in confined spaces.

The NHTSA expects backup camera systems to cost approximately $140 per vehicle.  The cost will be even lower for models that are already equipped with in-dash display units.

Some safety advocates have been critical of the NHTSA for not requiring backup cameras sooner.  In 2008 a law was passed requiring the NHTSA to develop rules that would reduce the number of backover accidents, which led to the development of the new regulation which had not been implemented until today.

Public Citizen president Robert Weissman said of the NHTSA’s announcement, “While the administration delayed the rule, more children died in backover accidents.  The cost of regulatory delay, in human lives, could hardly be more clear than it is today.”

Although the devices have not been required, many automakers already equip their vehicles with backup cameras, and the auto industry as a whole is applauding the new regulation.

In a statement, the Auto Alliance said, “Today, the government has stepped forward as a strong advocate for cameras on cars, and this action helps pave the way for using cameras in other ways on vehicles.” The alliance also said it would petition the NHTSA to allow automakers to replace side-view mirrors with cameras “that may expand side vision while increasing fuel efficiency.”

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