Backup Cameras Likely Mandated for 2014

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Update: USA Today is reporting that the Department of Transportation has delayed ruling on the backup camera mandate. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had expected to finalize the guidelines today. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood expects to have a final rule on requiring backup cameras in all passenger vehicles by Dec. 31, 2012. "Safety is the number one priority at the Department of Transportation -- and we give especially high priority to the safety of children. While the department has made progress toward a final rule to improve rearward visibility, it has decided that further study and data analysis -- including of a wider range of vehicles and drivers -- is important to ensure the most protective and efficient rule possible," NHTSA said in a statement.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 228 people die and around 17,000 people are injured annually in backover accidents involving cars, trucks and SUVs. What's worse is that nearly half of the fatalities are children. In 2010, NHTSA proposed a rearview camera mandate for all passenger vehicles, and The New York Times is reporting that the agency will send a final version of the plan to Congress on Wednesday.

If passed, automakers would be required to put rearview cameras in all passenger vehicles by 2014. "Adoption of this proposal would significantly reduce fatalities and injuries caused by backover crashes involving children, persons with disabilities, the elderly and other pedestrians," NHTSA said in its proposal.

Though NHTSA is convinced the mandate will go a long way toward protecting pedestrians, it also agrees that the technology will be expensive. In its study, it found that adding a backup camera to a vehicle without an existing visual display screen will probably cost $159 to $203 per vehicle. That number shrinks to between $58 and $88 for vehicles that already use display screens.

The mandate is likely to raise a car's base price, as much of the cost will probably be passed on to consumers. Though it will hit economy cars the hardest, the auto industry in general has been heading down this road for some time. Backup cameras have become more affordable and available in recent years. Honda's redesigned-for-2012 CR-V compact SUV is one recent example. A backup camera is newly standard on even the base trim level; it was previously only available as part of a pricey equipment package.

U.S. Rule Set for Cameras at Cars' Rear (New York Times)

By Jennifer Geiger | February 28, 2012 | Comments (20)

Comments 

reggie

Unfortunately, regulators are looking at a single solution where other solutions may be better in some cases. Sunlight can also cause problems with cameras.

For example, I like the sensor backup system that beeps much better - I have less problems with road grime effecting the performance compared to a camera - A big issue in rainy/snowy areas. My sensor still works well when I cannot see out of a rear-view camera sensor in a friends car.

A regulation should specify a device to alert drivers rather than specify the type of device and greatly limit innovation and possible better capabilities.

Val

This is great. I remember a couple years ago, a coworker of my husbands ran over a small child , even though he followed all safety rules cause the child snuck out of the home and hid behind the van. All of them are required to do a walk around of their vehicles, but there is still a small window of time for someone to get in. I have also nearly run an older woman over because she was very very short and went behind my car as it was already backing. No it wouldn't have been my fault, but I still would have been scarred forever by the incident. Back Up cameras save lives, especially with trucks, vans and SUV's.

Dan

Bah, just more infringement on my right to run over the neighborhood children. What excuse am I going to use now? Just another example of government ruining our lives.

Steve

I taught my kids (when they were small) that never go or walk behind cars at any circumstances. I also told them "if you cannot see driver's face, the driver won't be able to see you as well." I taught them to make an eye contact with the drivers at the cross walk and than cross when the driver signals them to cross.
Small things all add up.
But this is a great move. Accidents are not meant to happen like I buy the auto insurance that I do not mean to use it. But they do happen.

othree

@Dan: LOL!!!!!!
@Steve: Well done! Teaching kids to be careful is taking responsibility as a parent.

Overall, maybe I'm insensitive, but requiring this on all cars to lower the risk of .0055% of Americans is ridiculous (.000073% died - that's it). This will drive up the costs of entry level and econo-cars which affects mainly the middle to lower class. It's not like cameras are going to eliminate these deaths. You're still going to have impatient people who aren't cautious and also the grime/snow issue that was mentioned before.

Don't get me wrong, I'm in auto repair. This regulation could mean more business for me (as has tire pressure sensors/monitors), but seriously, I don't want more business at the expense of gov't intrusion. Obama-and-friends need to not spend time on crap like this that won't positively affect the economy and the good people of this country.

Let's all take Steve's approach and teach our children about safety and good sense. Some things in life are unfortunate, but the world we live in is quite broken and all of us will deal with the side effects of poor decisions. We can't cure it all with regulation or meds though there are many that wish/think we could.

George

I can think of three things that would be far more cost effective, and 'save more lives' [prevent premature death]

:Mandate that the CHSML be LED
:Disallow dual beam headlights
:Require amber turn signals, and lateral repeaters.

Brian

Makes you wonder how much money the back up camera manufacturing companies gave to election campaigns, just follow the money

M3

Great, that's all we need, even MORE safety equipment to protect us from ourselves. Airbags, ABS, stability control, tire pressure sensors, etc., all to try and idiot-proof our cars for us. I am SICK of the government forcing technology on us to compensate for people who don't know how to operate their cars safely. I would like to for all of this stuff to be OPTIONAL. Buy it if you need it, but some of us do NOT want it!

jimbo

@M3: I agree. If people insist on purchasing huge trucks and SUV's that they can't see behind, then they need to take the responsibility to ensure safe operation. But to force yet another mandate on all of us is nuts. Last year (or the year before) it was reported that traffic fatalities were at the lowest level since the 1950's. At the time I remember thinking that advances in (expensive) automotive technology (ABS, Airbags, etc) is twarting Darwinism -- by preventing the deaths of people who probably should have died because of their own stupidity thereby allowing them to continue to pass down their genetic material.

William

I've had one since I bought a new car in 2004; the car we bought my wife in 2010 has one. They are simply *fantastic* and I would highly recommend them. I've never had any problem with lighting, only water (rain) and dirty. But that's easily wiped off.

Bug

We've got a backup "beeper" and camera on our '09 Chevy Traverse. We like them both, though I still use them as "backups" to actually looking where I'm backing. The beeper is handy for things that are hard to see and the camera is GREAT for positioning in spots like parallel parking or backing into the garage.

Scott B

While it's arguable whether this is a sign of an overreaching government, but it clearly another recent example of how lack of technological fluency can lead directly to a dangerously myopic legislation.

Certainly any safety measure is prone to failure or misuse (e.g., not putting on the seat belt), but it seems there are more and easier ways that an automotive camera-monitor system could be compromised.

Steve Shapero

I've had a variety of vehicles with back-up cameras and they can really pay off when you're in a tight situation and need to know exactly where that other car is. We currently have one in our 2012 Highlander and one in our 2010 Tundra. The only problem is in the winter when the camera lens gets obscured by snow and slush. VW figured that out by hiding the camera behind the emblem when it's not in use... which is most of the time.

Randy

I agree with othree that the actual added safety to Americans is very low and probably doesn't warrant gov't intervention on the grounds of safety. HOWEVER, something the article does not mention, is that mandating cameras [or some sort of rear sensor] could greatly reduce simple fender-benders or property damage due to an inattentive or poor driver while they are parking on the street, or manuevering in a parking lot or driveway. These types of accidents are really common, and although they typically don't result in injuries they still cost money for inviduals, insurance companies, and municipalities. Insurance companies typically require a police report many car accident claims...think of how much time is spent by publicly paid police officers responding to stupid traffic/parking lot accidents. Or the time insurance companies spend processing and paying out on these claims? Remember, for insurance companies time = money = higher insurance rates for all customers. A significant reduction to these minor accidents could be a huge cost savings to society in general for just a minor change on the vehicle manufacturing line. I think there is a case to be made that it's in the public's best interest for a back-up camera/sensor mandate, but certainly not on the basis of safety alone.

Mary B

I have a backup camera in my 2007 Prius and I love it! It's especially helpful because what you can see out the back window is really minimal. But it's also great backing out of my driveway because my lot is fenced on one side, and my driveway goes across a sidewalk. Sometimes people don't know there's a driveway there, and I can't always see people looking out the sideview mirrors, especially if they're walking briskly. Also helpful in parallel parking. Dirt is not a problem. If it gets dirty I just wipe it off.

Nancy D

I only have one eye so you could say I have a huge blind spot on my right side. However, I use a wide-angle mirror inside the car and a small additional mirror inside the side window mirrors. Works for me. It really strikes me as laughable that Honda puts it on their cars as part of the basic package. Is someone in government trying to follow the Japanese with the camera rather than being original? I'm all for safety, but in 24 years driving with only one eye, I have never backed over anyone or anything. If I'm visiting someone with children, I make them stand to the side and back of the car and roll my driver window down so I'm not going to hit a person or object. Maybe if we all used a little common sense, we wouldn't have fatalities. Isn't that why we have the word accident in the English language as well as mandated car insurance?

Allan

I'll tell you why I don't want a backup camera...I rarely backup!! Seriously, I "pull through" parking spaces in order to shift into drive and get away fast. I back into my garage; there better be no kids playing inside cause I live alone. I'm the guy that triple parks over 3 spaces at the far end of the parking lot. Don't need it don't want it.

GEORGE POTTER

Hey, if it saves one kid's life, it's worth it!

If you have a car that doesn't have a backup camera you can buy one of any number of kits to add the functionality. There are starting to be some cameras on the market that require no drilling of holes or routing of wires, both of which are a significant deterrent to the average backup camera 'enthusiast'. Open Road QuickVu is an example. It is found at www.trulywirelessbackupcamera.com and other places. Starting to appear in retail as well.

ericdallas

I am reminded of a speech from the Whitehouse that was given, advising us that the government will be watching us, appliances hearing and seeing us, etc. sounds psychotic, but a backup camera on every car would be really great way to gunshot where you've been or where you're going. The FBI has used onstar to track people, why not a backup camera?

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