The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is taking action to diminish the type of accident where a driver backs up over a child playing in the driveway or an older person in a store parking lot. NHTSA figures show that 44% of this type of fatal accident involves children under age five. Thirty-three percent of such fatalities involve elderly persons over age 70, according to NHTSA.
Such an accidental traffic death moved Congress to pass the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportion Safety Act of 2007. The law stemmed from the publicity generated by a 2002 accident where a man backed out of his driveway, struck and killed the child after whom the law was named.
One result of Cameron Gulbransen’s tragic death was that backup cameras are now required on some large vehicles. A new regulation would apply to vehicles weighing 10,000 pounds or less. Auto makers like Ford and Toyota have already taken it upon themselves to sell models with back up cameras installed.
The installation of the rear view cameras for all vehicles meeting the new criteria would be phased in beginning Sept. 2012, when 10 percent of new cars would have the cameras. The following year would require a 40 percent compliance level with 100 percent compliance to follow in 2014. The Highway Transportation Department says that 207 fatalities occur annually from vehicles backing up in parking lots and driveways. The number of injured persons from this type of accident is said to be more than 15,000. ,
Should the NHTSA regulation go into effect, there will be little opposition from publicity sensitive automakers-especially if they want to increase vehicle sales. Estimates are that that mandated rear view video will cost the industry between $1.9 billion and $2.7 billion. Automakers will pass the estimated $200 additional unit cost to the consumer.
Critics on sites carrying news of the NHTSA Dec. 3 announcement complain that making back view cameras obligatory would add to existing nanny-state regulation. One poster said the proposed new regulation was simply poor cost/benefit analysis by the “Federal Politburo.” Still others point to the ineffective narrow field range of the technology itself and worry that people will either rely on them too much or ignore them completely.
Cynics may point to at least one good thing that can come of this regulation, should it become law. We could all look forward to some great tailpipe videos posted on YouTube-so long as they don’t have tragic endings.
Meanwhile, the matter is still open for discussion. The NHTSA provides information and instructions for public input to the ” Federal eRulemaking Portal ” for the proposed regulation change: Docket No.NHTSA-2010-0162.