New Regulation Requiring Automobile Backup Cameras Takes Effect May 2018
It is hard to deny the benefits of vehicle backup cameras. They allow drivers to see around blind spots and alert them to any impediments near the back of the vehicle. They increase safety for everyone on the road by reducing the risk of avoidable injury. This device, once viewed as a luxury item, is now considered a safety feature. In fact, all new cars sold after May 2018 will now be required to include them.
On March 31, 2014, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a press release announcing that these backup cameras would be standard issue in all new vehicles under 10,000 pounds and sold after May 2018.
The need for such regulation is evident in the numbers. In a 2010 report, the NHTSA estimated that every year 210 people die and 15,000 are injured in light-vehicle backup incidents. Thirty-one percent of those deaths are among children under the age of five and 26 percent are adults over the age of 70. The size of a child under the age of five and the child’s failure to heed the risks are the main factors that place these children in danger of a backup incident. What’s most disturbing is that the majority of accidents involving children occur at home where children are presumed to be safe, and 40 percent of these child victims are related to the driver who struck them (i.e. in many instances their parent or some other close relative backing out of the driveway).
These accidents do not necessarily result from inattentive or unskilled drivers. Side mirrors are simply not reliable, as vehicles have built-in blind spots that mirrors can completely miss. In certain vehicles, such as sports cars, sports utility vehicles, and trucks, obstacles are not visible at all through the rear glass. The idea that someone could be standing directly behind a vehicle and not be visible to a driver using his or her mirrors and/or looking through the rear windshield is a terrifying thought.
The push for regulations regarding better rearview visibility is over at least a decade old. A chief advocate for such regulation is Greg Gulbransen, a grieving father who in 2002 accidentally ran over his two-year-old son Cameron while backing out of his driveway, causing Cameron to suffer fatal injuries. Following the horrific incident, Greg Gulbransen explained, “I never had a chance of seeing Cameron because he was too small—too small for the large blind zones that are built into the design of our vehicles.” Gulbransen believes that with a rearview camera to see the vehicle’s blind spot, Cameron would still be alive.
The new regulation requires all automobiles under 10,000 pounds that are made and sold after May 1, 2018 to include rear visibility technology. Although the requirement does not apply to older models or to used automobiles manufactured prior to the regulation date, it is wise for owners of all automobiles to have a backup camera installed.
According to the NHTSA, every year between 58 and 69 lives will be spared from these backup accidents once all automobiles on the road have rear-view systems, which is estimated to occur by the year 2054.