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NHTSA Proposes Mandatory Backup Cameras in New Cars

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On: Mon, Dec 6, 2010 at 3:42PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

NHTSA Proposes Mandatory Backup Cameras in New Cars

According to a recent press release, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is proposing a new regulation that would mandate automakers to install backup camera safety equipment in all passenger vehicles, including trucks, minivans, and buses weighing 10,000 lbs or less. The proposed law would force automakers to install backup cameras in 10% of their products by 2012, 40% by 2013, and all new vehicles built by 2014.

The reason the NHTSA is so concerned about backup cameras is the number of back-over accidents and injuries that occur every year. In fact, 292 people die every year from backup accidents and 18,000 are injured. The rule is intended primarily to lower the incidence of pedestrians (mostly elderly and children under 5) involved in backup accident and fatalities. If legislation is adopted to support the new rule, it may cost automakers as much as $2.7 billion dollars.

But will rear-view cameras really provide more safety in vehicles equipped with such devices? A closer look at the technology reveals that rear-view cameras provide an improved view of what's going on behind the vehicle. Considering the fact that visibility in new vehicles seems to be getting worse, it’s logical to surmise that the cameras will make an impact on decreasing fatalities and injuries. The NHTSA is predicting that by installing backup cameras on all cars, fatalities and injuries will be reduced by as much as 50%.

“There is no more tragic accident than for a parent or caregiver to back out of a garage or driveway and kill or injure an undetected child playing behind the vehicle,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement. “The changes we are proposing today will help drivers see into those blind zones directly behind vehicles to make sure it is safe to backup.”

If NHTSA's new proposal does become law, it will mean additional costs that will be passed on to the consumer. Most luxury vehicles are already equipped with the new technology, but even if the backup camers systems themselves do not have a high overhead cost, the price of installing them in every vehicle will more than likely end up raising MSRP prices of less expensive models.

Ford Motor Company stated that it will install rear-view cameras in all Ford cars and trucks, including Lincoln models, by the end of next year.

"Our research shows that visibility is one of the biggest customer concerns today," Jim Buczkowski, director of electrical and electronics systems engineering at Ford, said.

“Given that our top priority is keeping people, especially children, safe in and around autos, the Alliance looks forward to working with regulators to ensure that, in the end, we have enhancements that saves lives and improve safety,” Wade Newton, a spokesman for the Washington-based Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers, said.

The new rule is being embraced by many other automakers and automotive groups. According to a spokeswoman for the Washington-based international group: “our members invest billions of dollars into saving lives by researching, creating, and deploying advanced safety features on their vehicles.”


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