The National High Traffic Safety Administration has finally enacted a long-awaited regulation that will require all new model cars to be equipped with back-up cameras. This will include all cars, trucks, and buses. For some reason trailers, which can and do pose a serious safety risk when backing up, are exempt from the rule.
Back-over accidents cause 15,000 injuries every year, along with 210 deaths. Many of the victims of back-over accidents are children and the elderly, who are too low to the ground to be seen using mirrors or by turning one’s head. The new cameras will have to display a field of vision at least 10 feet by 20 feet behind the vehicle on a screen that must meet strict requirements in the dashboard.
The requirement will be in full effect by 2018. It is expected to prevent as many as 1,125 injuries each year and prevent up to 15 deaths. The law authorizing this change was originally passed by Congress in 2008 but safety officials have not provided a comprehensive set of rules and regulations to guide its implementation until now, blaming the toll the recession took on the auto industry.
For children and their parents who have been hurt by cars with massive blind spots and no back-up cameras, this justification is hardly a comfort. Cars that are unreasonably dangerous should not be on the road and it is possible that in some cases a large blind spot may be so dangerous that it constitutes a design flaw for which a consumer could hold a car company responsible.
Source: Washington Post, “NHTSA to require rearview cameras in new vehicles,” March 31, 2014.