DOT Postpones Backup Camera Mandate Once Again
After delaying a rule four times that would require all new cars to have backup cameras as standard equipment, the U.S. Department of Transportation has delayed the rule for a fifth time, according to news reports. When it was first proposed in December 2010, the rule would have required all new cars to come equipped with the cameras beginning with 2014 model year vehicles, but that date has been pushed back to 2015, an article in Automotive News says.
The rule was required by a 2008 auto safety law signed by then-President George W. Bush, Automotive News writes, and was created after a New York boy named Cameron Gulbransen was killed when his father accidentally backed up over him. The mandate was to be applied to all cars and trucks, but automakers argued that the backup cameras made the most sense on larger vehicles whose rear visibility is not the best, writes Edward A. Sanchez for Automobile Magazine.
As this blog wrote on March 1, 2012, “The blind spot for a pickup truck is 30 feet, while the average SUV or minivan has a blind zone of 15 feet, and a family sedan has a blind zone 12 feet deep,” according to Jim Avila on ABCNews.Go.com/blogs.
It was a letter from U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller that revealed this latest postponement. The letter said the rule is being delayed because there needs to be more analysis of its cost. The agency said the cost would be $2.7 billion, which amounts to as much as $18 million for each life saved thanks to the back-up cameras. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has said 292 people — mostly children and the elderly — are killed annually on average as a result of backup accidents, and that half of those could be prevented by requiring the cameras.
At this point, the earliest timeframe for full or staggered implementation of the backup camera mandate looks like late 2015, for implementation in 2017 and later model year vehicles. Some automakers, such as Honda, are supportive of the rule, and already offer a backup camera as standard or optional on the majority of their models. Others argue that such a sweeping mandate is not necessary.
CBS Chicago reports that Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky said she is angry that the rule is being postponed yet again, and will gather bereaved parents to make her case before the NHTSA. According to the article:
‘We can absolutely protect hundreds of children from needlessly being killed, often by a parent who can’t see her child as the car backs out of the driveway,’ she said.
Schakowsky said such accidents would be easily preventable by requiring backup cameras that cost $60 to $150 on each car.
‘There is a terrible blind spot behind our automobiles — especially the very common vans and SUVs that people have,’ she said.
In a statement, Schlowsky writes: “Every week this rule is delayed, we lose four Americans to backover deaths. This is simply unacceptable. We can’t afford to wait any longer.”