Back-up camera systems must be standard equipment in U.S. cars by May 1, 2018. This is good news to parents groups and consumer advocates who had brought a lawsuit against the Obama administration in September 2013, stating that a 2011 regulation requiring the vehicle video device was delayed multiple times and was costing lives. On March 31, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) mandated the device for vehicles with a gross weight of less than 10,000–e.g. family cars, SUVs, minivans and light trucks.
Protect the Youngest and the Oldest
Backers of the new rule are adamant that children under 5 and adults older than 70 are most at risk for injury or fatality when a driver backs over them because he simply did not see them. More than 210 individuals die and thousands are injured annually, says the NHTSA, by cars and trucks going in reverse. Most fall in that very young/elderly age group.
What the Back-up Visibility System Must Do
1. It must be active within 6 seconds of opening the driver-side door and putting the vehicle into reverse.
2. The angle of view must be the same for all camera systems (10′ by 20′).
3. The image has to be color.
It’s Simple and Relatively Inexpensive
Car & Driver states that the camera should cost less than $50 for vehicles that already have video systems and less than $150 for cars that do not. Safety awareness organization Kids&Cars.org says the cost is minimal but the savings in lost and impaired lives is monumental. The website documents cases of children who have been killed or seriously injured by being backed over, oftentimes by a relative who id not see the victim. The parents active in the organization maintain a camera is a simple fix.
The Back-up Camera Does Not Substitute for Driver Vigilance
The NHTSA recommends these good driving habits as foundational to avoiding back-up accidents:
1. Always walk behind the vehicle to check for people and objects.
2. Instruct children to be in the house or clearly in the field of vision–e.g. on the lawn.
3. Keep toys and bikes out of the driveway.
4. Use mirrors.
5. Open car windows to hear what is happening outside the vehicles.
The new auto regulation will be phased in and completed by 2018. The aim is prevent injury and tragedy, and save lives.