Small child behind a vehicle; Image courtesy

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All new vehicles under 10,000 pounds will be required to have rear-view cameras by May 2018, writes Chris Woodyard for USA Today. This requirement is part of a regulation issued Monday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. An NHTSA press release says the new rule will increase the safety of such vehicles by reducing the risk of backover pedestrian accidents.

The NHTSA statement quotes U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx:

‘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.’

The rule requires vehicles to have dashboard screens that display a 10-by-20-foot zone directly behind the vehicle and that meet certain requirements for image size, linger time, response time, durability, and deactivation, according to the press release. NHTSA Acting Administrator David Friedman said the agency is recommending this life-saving technology through its New Car Assessment Program (NCAP), which rates vehicles to determine how safe they are in the case of a crash or rollover. NHTSA is encouraging consumers to seriously consider rear-view cameras when buying cars.

On average, 210 fatalities and 15,000 injuries occur annually because of backover accidents, the press release says. Of those, 31% of such fatalities involve children under 5 years old, and 26% are of adults 70 and older, DOT writes.

As this blog reported last September, four consumer safety groups and two parents who injured or killed their children in backup accidents had filed a lawsuit in hopes of forcing Foxx to issue a final safety rule within 90 days to require the backup cameras in all new cars. At that time, NHTSA said it was adding the backup camera systems to NCAP’s list of “recommended” features. The consumer groups that filed the lawsuit included the Consumers Union of the United States, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Public Citizen, and

Woodyard reports that DOT’s original deadline for all such vehicles to have the rear-view cameras was the start of this year, but the deadline has been pushed back. However, some automakers are putting the cameras on all their new vehicles, he notes, and many offer them as standard or optional equipment even on small, inexpensive cars. NHTSA writes that it “took time on this regulation to ensure that the policy was right and make the rule flexible and achievable.”

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