Consumer Groups Sue Government Over Backup Camera Delay


Consumers Union — the lobbying group for Consumer Reports — joined the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Kids and Cars Inc. and two parents in filing a lawsuit Wednesday against the Department of Transportation for "unreasonable delay" on a backup camera mandate. The ruling, issued after Congress passed — and President George W. Bush signed — the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act in 2008, is named after a child killed when an SUV backed into him in 2002. The bill authorized the DOT to issue a law within three years unless conditions could not be met.

Since then, DOT has pushed the timetable back four times, the latest of which delays a final rule until 2015. That rule would likely stipulate a phase-in period, which means shoppers may not see standard backup cameras until the 2017 or 2018 model year. Still, automakers like Honda are ahead of the game with backup cameras in almost all cars.

A 2012 Harris Poll survey found growing consumer interest in the cameras. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has said they would add $159 to $203 per vehicle for cars without instrument panel screens but only $58 to $88 for cars that already have them — and those displays are reaching ubiquity, with brands as affordable as Scion making them standard.

The DOT estimates standard backup cameras would prevent 95 to 112 deaths and 7,072 to 8,374 injuries a year, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety said in a press release. That's a large chunk of the 228 people killed and 17,000 injured in so-called "backover" crashes by light-duty vehicles (e.g., not semi-trucks), the lawsuit claimed. The death toll is a small chunk of pedestrian deaths caused by motorists — 4,432 were killed in 2011, according to a May 2013 report by NHTSA — but the injury toll is significant. NHTSA says some 69,000 pedestrians were injured by a motorist in 2011; that means a quarter of those incidents may have resulted from light-duty vehicles backing into people.

"The Transportation Department has a mission, duty and obligation to protect the public, but every day it stalls this rule, Americans unnecessarily remain in danger," Kids and Cars President Janette Fennell said in a statement. DOT spokeswoman Karen Aldana did not respond to our request for comment. NHTSA said Monday it would add backup cameras to its list of recommended vehicle technologies, which go alongside a given car's five-star safety ratings. Scott Michelman, an attorney at Public Citizen, which represents the litigating group, told USA Today that "a recommendation is no substitute for a mandate."

Honda Makes Backup Cameras Standard on Most Models
Federal Backup Camera Mandate Pushed Back Again
More Safety News

By Kelsey Mays | September 26, 2013 | Comments (14)


A. Non E. Mouse

Learn to use your mirrors, do a walk-around prior to pulling out, etc.

Having the backup camera is handy as long as it works well... but I think you also need to use common sense and still look the traditional way along with the newer technology to help you out.

Anonymous Guy

I'm just biding my time until some parent backs over their kid and sues the auto manufacturer for not designing a camera that doesn't get dirty, thus obscuring their view while backing up.


My mom's 2012 RAV4 Limited doesn't have Entune, so the backup camera is in the rearview mirror. She still has to look back when pulling out. Backup cameras aren't as helpful as these liberally minded unions think.


What a crock of nannyism. Every car I've ever owned for the last 40 years has had a "backup viewer". It's called a mirror! Don't people bother to use their mirrors or bother too look behind the car before even entering it, let alone backing up? Sheesh!


will the next step be requiring someone to walk behind the backing up auto waving a lantern , like they did when cars first came out


If people can't handle driving their ships on wheels, they should have thought twice before buying them. We've gotten along fine for over 100 years with just mirrors. Relying on a camera is probably more dangerous. I'm sure people get used to using them and don't bother to look around before they back out, so all they see is that little spot behind them.

Mike S

I'm not anti-backup camera per se, but I don't agree with this kind of lawsuit or mandate. Especially these "estimates" of how many lives would be saved - who came up with that?

I have several issues with backup cameras, namely people being lulled into a false sense of security by staring at the screen while driving backwards. Especially if the vehicle doesn't also have cross-traffic alerts, I envision more people just backing out without checking their sides first.

But more importantly, a camera doesn't mean the driver is paying attention. They still have to stop the vehicle themselves. And that's what I simply don't trust to happen. In a world of distracted driving and unintended acceleration claims, I have my doubts.

It will always be someone else's fault, or "woulda/coulda/shoulda" something else.

As tragic as these backover accidents are, I don't expect a drastic reduction in incidents, which is why I dislike the law. Sure, the cameras can be helpful, but in the end we still have the same poorly trained drivers that don't pay as much attention to the task at hand as they ought to.


The way I was taught to drive is to physically turn your head around and look back when backing up and don't rely on the narrow field of vision that the rearview mirror provides. A backup camera is dangerous to me because it forces you to only look at the screen. The camera should be projected onto the rear window so you see it as you are looking back.



Projecting it on the rear window actually sounds like a good idea to me. I'm also against them for the same reason, too many people will completely lose focus on their surroundings because they're staring at a small screen.


Projecting onto a rear window is the dumbest idea I've ever heard and it defeats the whole purpose. Get a clue!

I agree with everyone else in this discussion. I found that using a backup camera while renting several newer cars could give the driver a false of security and I imagine many people will not use their mirrors or look back when reversing. The cameras also don't offer a wide view and a passing car may not be seen until it's too late if a driver is dependent solely on the camera.

Although avoidable accidents involving children are always sad, it's a small number of incidents to try to justify changes to the millions of cars that are sold each year.

The only benefit I have ever gained from a rear view camera is when parallel parking and trying to judge how far the car behind me is. Otherwise in normal parking situations, it's just an annoying nanny that I often ignore over the traditional method of looking behind when reversing. It just goes against my driving logic to look forward at a screen when backing up a 3000lb. hunk of metal


If the camera does not give you a sense of distance, it is useless...I have one from aftermarket and it sucks.


To the parents who ran over their own children: Its your fault. You negligently killed your own child. Stop blaming Obama and car companies.

Post a Comment 

Please remember a few rules before posting comments:

  • If you don't want people to see your email address, simply type in the URL of your favorite website or leave the field empty.
  • Do not mention specific car dealers by name. Feel free to mention your city, state and brand.
  • Try to be civil to your fellow blog readers. This blog is not a fan or enthusiast forum, it is meant to help people during the car-buying process and during the time between purchases, so shoppers can keep a pulse on the market.
  • Stay on topic. We want to hear your opinions and thoughts, but please only comment about the specified topic in the blog post.
view posting rules

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In

Search Results

KickingTires Search Results for

Search Kicking Tires

KickingTires iPhone App