Tag Archives: back up cameras

Seatbelts, Booster Seats and Back-Over Accidents

“Children don’t need to be in a car to be hurt by one” is a phrase that has percolated in my mind over the past week. Where we live in Virginia, I see at least one young child in a car not buckled in a seatbelt or safely protected by a booster seat, perhaps once a week. I rarely, if ever, see young children turned around facing backward in the backseat. Often I want to say something to the drivers–in a thoughtful way–but offering free advice about a hot-button issue like seatbelts or booster seats can elicit a hostile response. So we will continue to raise the issue in ChildSafetyBlog. Here, we are probably as sensitive to this issue as many people who see young adult drivers texting or adults simply using their phone, while driving. Yet, in our view, parents who transport children by car without at least fastening seatbelts or protecting them in a booster seat are clearly not using their best judgment.

To be protected very young children should remain in a rear-facing car seat until they are at least 20 pounds in weight and a year old. Babies can be vulnerable to head and spine injuries in the case of a car crash, if their car seats are not rear facing. Some parents are concerned that their children may sustain leg injuries if their seats face backward, but thus far, there is no evidence of kids receiving leg injuries because their car seats were facing the back.

We were surprised to learn recently that many parents have actually given up booster seats for children between the ages 4 and 8–even though children can sustain serious injuries without booster seats. Booster seats are especially helpful because the child is raised to a height where the seat belt fits properly across lap and chest. Strapping children snugly in their seats is also a key to safety. If parents loosen the straps for any reason, they need to remember before they go on their way, to tighten them again. One more caution to parents and caregivers is to make sure when you send your child in someone else’s car, that the driver has your child’s booster seat to use for your child. You might even think about purchasing an extra, basic booster seat to use for this purpose.

Back to the earlier statement, kids don’t need to be in cars to be hurt by them. Backing over children is still a terrible tragedy no parent or caregiver should ever experience. The statistics are shocking: Fatal backing accidents kill at least 228 people every year — 110 of them are children under age 10 — and injure 17,000.[1] We have passed the end of 2012, and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who pushed back the deadline to publish the new rules for car manufacturers, promised this would be done by the end of the year. The new rules would mandate new manufacturing requirements to improve the visibility behind passenger vehicles and help prevent fatal backing crashes. We want to know why this hasn’t happened? The response of “added costs to the auto industry”-in light of their current profits–is no longer a viable excuse!

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. http://content.usatoday.com/communities/driveon/post/2012/02/report-backup-camera-to-be-required-on–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 KidsAndCars.org, commented that the news was devastating and totally unacceptable when it has been four years since the bill had been signed into law. http://ceoutlook.com/tag/rear-view-cameras/

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; http://content.usatoday.com/communities/driveon/post/2012/02/report-backup-camera-to-be-required-on–2014-light-vehicles/1