The U.S. Department of Transportation has proposed a measure that could mandate backup cameras on all new vehicles by 2014 in an effort to reduce blind spots behind cars that cause accidents with pedestrians.
The proposed safety regulation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) could cost as much as $2.7 billion and was required by Congress as part of the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act of 2007. The Act was named for Cameron Gulbransen, a two-year-old who was killed when his father accidentally backed over him in the family driveway.
"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," said Transportation secretary Ray LaHood, 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 back up."
To meet the proposed standard requiring an expanded field of view for all vehicles, the NHTSA expects that automobile manufacturers will install rear-mounted video cameras and in-vehicle displays. The department said it believes increasing a driver's field of vision will save lives.
Already, car makers are responding. The 2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe comes standard with a rearview camera, according to Automobile magazine. Ford will include rearview cameras on almost all of its Ford and Lincoln models by the end of 2011 to address customer concerns with visibility. The Ford system will offer two ways to view the area behind the car from a camera mounted in the back. A rearview mirror or the navigation screen on the dashboard can be used to display the camera images.
An average of 292 fatalities and 18,000 injuries occur every year as a result of back-up crashes involving vehicles, according to the NHTSA, and of that figure, 228 fatalities involve vehicles weighing 10,000 pounds or less. Children and the elderly are at the greatest risk, the NHTSA said, and children under five make up approximately 44% of fatalities involving light vehicles. Additionally, 33% of fatalities involving light vehicles are people aged 70 or older.
According to the requirements of the proposed rule, 10% of all new vehicles must be in compliance by September 2012, 40% by September 2013 and 100% by September 2014.