Secretary of Transportation Postpones Rule on Back-up Cameras for Autos and Trucks

According to an article in the February 28 section, DriveOn in USA Today, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood has postponed once more the publication of a rule which would require rear-view cameras in all model 2014 cars and trucks.–2014-light-vehicles/1

Anticipating that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) can issue the final rule by December 31, 2012, Secretary LaHood informed members of the House and Senate oversight committees. DOT currently estimates that having rear-view cameras in vehicles could save approximately 300 lives annually.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that “292 fatalities and 18,000 injuries result each year from back-over incidents by cars and light trucks”. Of fatalities involving light vehicles, the NHTSA says 44% are children under five years of age.[1][1]  Child Safety advocate, Janette Fennell of, commented that the news was devastating and totally unacceptable when it has been four years since the bill had been signed into law.

The 2007 law requiring DOT to promulgate standards to improve the ability for drivers to view pedestrians behind vehicles was originally to have been published by February 28, 2011; however, LaHood cited the many difficult issues which surfaced during the public comment period for the proposed standards.  LaHood also noted that additional research and data analyses would be required to produce the most “protective and efficient” rule that would cover a broader spectrum of vehicles and drivers than originally addressed.

Indicating that the new projected deadline for this critical safety rule would be December 31, 2012, LaHood also noted that if a final rule were not published by December 2012, that it could affect whether cameras would be installed in all new 2014 vehicles.  Carmakers and regulators presently differ in their perception of how quickly a camera image “must appear after the driver shifts into reverse.” The difference of two seconds could mean the life of a child standing, walking or playing behind a large SUV.

Another point of contention between DOT and automobile manufacturers is the additional cost to carmakers which would be passed on to the consumer and could raise the sticker price $200 for some vehicles.  Some high-end automakers presently offer a rear-view camera as an option. There also are differences in the cameras, for instance, a driver may have to turn the radio on before the camera will work. Consumer Reports‘ Auto Testing Center’s David Champion says, “Back-up cameras are a great thing, because visibility is getting worse in today’s cars,” due to changes in car styles leaning toward aerodynamic rather than visibility improvements.

[1][1] “LaHood delays rule that may require backup cameras,” Woodyard, Chris et al., USA Today “Drive On”, February 28, 2012;–2014-light-vehicles/1

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