Rear-view visibility in new cars was the issue when a grieving group of parents, consumer safety organizations and traffic safety activists sued the government in late September.
The stories are heartbreaking. Children killed in rollover accidents because they were too small to be seen. Five years ago, legislation was passed to improve rear-view visibility. It should have been implemented by 2011.
The Cameron Gulbransen Act was passed in 2008 with bipartisan support. It calls for the Department of Transportation to issue regulations to reduce incidence of child injury and death occurring inside or outside of light motor vehicles. Basically, that means new vehicles should come equipped with rear-view camera installed.
DOT has dragged its feet on this issue. After granting itself multiple extensions, in August it extended its final rule yet again until January 2015. With that in place, automakers would not have to make back-up cameras standard until 2017, almost 10 years after the legislation was passed.
About 200 people are killed each year in the United States, and more than 18,000 are injured by backover accidents. “Every year, thousands of children are killed or seriously injured because a driver backing up didn’t see them. A backover incident typically takes place when a car is backing out of a driveway or parking space,” according to Kids and Cars.org.
The typical victim is just 1 year old. Tragically, in over 70 percent of these incidents, a parent or close relative is behind the wheel.
Those involved with the issue say that the auto industry is adverse to making the changes as rear-view cameras would add between $100-$200 to the cost of a vehicle. That’s a small price to pay to save lives.