Backup cameras now are mandatory in all new passenger vehicles, thanks to a long-awaited federal rule that went into effect in early June.
The cameras are expected to further reduce the number of injuries and fatalities caused by so-called back-over accidents. An estimated 210 people die and 15,000 are injured each year due to such accidents, according to federal data. Children younger than five account for 31 percent of back-over deaths each year, and adults 70 and older make up for 26 percent of fatalities.
These devices save lives and prevent injuries
“This technology helps drivers see behind the vehicle, which…will help save lives and prevent injuries,’’ Heidi King, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration deputy administrator told the Los Angeles Times. Under the rule, all cars, buses and trucks under 10,000 pounds and manufactured or made to sell in the United States are required to have rear-view video systems as standard equipment. The field of view must include a 10-foot-by-20-foot zone directly behind the vehicle.
The movement to get rear cameras in cars was partially inspired by Cameron Gulbransen, a two-year-old boy who died in 2002 after his father accidentally backed over him in the driveway because he couldn’t see the toddler behind his vehicle.
In 2008, the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act was enacted by Congress. It required that federal transportation officials write a regulation addressing vehicle rear visibility, among other mandates. Regulators and automakers later agreed that rear-view cameras would be the best solution.
The effort stumbled until 2014 when, facing a lawsuit from safety advocates, transportation officials announced that rear cameras would be required in all passenger vehicles, and that automakers would be given four years to phase in the technology.
In response to the federal requirement, Ford last year standardized rear-view cameras for all cars and trucks under 10,000 pounds. Nissan and Toyota are in compliance as well.
Some automakers started with the rear-view technology in the first part of this century, but it was largely only available in the most expensive models.
Some safety advocates had mixed feelings, noting that the rule was years in the making and the auto industry should have been required to do more to protect drivers and families sooner.
“It took a long time, and sadly along that journey, we had more families joining us in our fight because they had lost their children while knowing there is this preventable technology,’’ said Cathy Chase, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, which helped the campaign for the change. “It’s heartbreaking.’’
Chase said that that many families couldn’t previously afford the types of vehicles that came with backup cameras. “It’s a tremendous safety victory,’’ Chase said. “It means that a family will not lose their little baby because this camera alerted them that the baby ran behind the car. How can you put a price tag on that? It’s just comforting to know when people are going to buy cars now they have this safety feature and don’t have to shell out an additional $2,000 to $4,000.’’
The cameras have the biggest benefit, according to various surveys, for drivers 70 and older. Their backing crash rate fell 40 percent with cameras, compared with 15 percent for drivers younger than 70.
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