In an effort to reduce the number of injuries and deaths associated with backover incidents, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) plans to announce a requirement to put rearview cameras in all passenger vehicles by 2014.
In a preliminary version of the mandate circulated for public comment, regulators predicted that adding the cameras and viewing screens will cost the auto industry as much as $2.7 billion a year, or $160 to $200 a vehicle.
At least some of the cost is expected to be passed on to consumers through higher prices.
But regulators say that 95 to 112 deaths and as many as 8,374 injuries could be avoided each year by eliminating the wide blind spot behind a vehicle. Government statistics indicate that 228 people of all ages — 44 percent of whom are under age 5 — die every year in backover accidents involving passenger vehicles. About 17,000 people a year are injured in such accidents.
Safety advocates say a mandatory camera is long overdue. “We wouldn’t buy a car if we couldn’t see 30 or 40 feet going forward,” Janette Fennell the founder of KidsAndCars.org, a national child safety organization, stated to the New York Times. “We’re taking this big lethal weapon going in reverse, and we can’t see.”
According to the organization’s website, each year thousands of children are either injured or killed because a driver backing up didn’t see them. In the US, fifty children are involved in backover incident each week and in over 70% of these incidents a parent or close relative is behind the wheel.
Automakers began offering backup cameras only about a decade ago, by using the in-dash navigation screens that had become popular on luxury models. The feature has become increasingly popular as companies found more inexpensive ways to display camera images to a sherry99driver, such as on a screen hidden in the rearview mirror.
For the 2012 model year, 45 percent of vehicles offer a rearview camera as standard equipment, according to the automotive research Web site Edmunds.com. It is an optional feature on 23 percent of models as reported by the New York Times.
Regulators studied other ways of improving rear visibility, including the beeping radar-based sensors that many vehicles already offer. But they determined that the sensors often did not detect moving people, especially children. Drivers also responded better to the camera image than the audio alerts, they said.
As reported by the New York Times, “Video camera-based systems are by far the most comprehensive and cost-effective currently available solution for reducing backover crashes, fatalities and injuries,” the N.H.T.S.A. said.