The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is days away from a decision on whether mandatory backup cameras will be added to mandatory safety equipment on cars. Victims of backing up accidents are lobbying hard to see that they do.
Grieving mother lobbies Congress to cut down on backing up accidents
Judy Neiman, of West Richland, Wash., a small town outside Richland, Wash., part of the Tri-Cities area, is currently lobbying lawmakers to pass a law requiring mandatory backup cameras on cars, several years after suffering one of the worst imaginable tragedies, according to the Daily Mail.
Neiman, on a errand in December 2011, according to the Tri-City Herald, began backing out of a parking space in her 2006 Cadillac Escalade. She saw one of her two child passengers, the 10-year-old son of a neighbor, and assumed her daughter Sydnee was in the car, though she was actually making her way around the SUV to get in the driver-side passenger door.
Neiman felt a moderate bump, stopped and got out of the vehicle. Sydnee, age 9, didn’t survive her injuries, one of the many children who die annually in backing up accidents
Camera might have saved her
Sydnee Neiman, at 4-feet-3-inches tall, wouldn’t have been visible out the rear window according to investigators; the rear windows on an Escalade are about 5 feet off the ground. Had the vehicle been equipped with a rearview camera, it’s possible she might be alive, though it wasn’t available on the 2006 Escalade. It became an optional extra on the 2007 model.
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We are all eventually statistics, but Sydnee was one of the estimated 228 fatal backing up accidents the NHTSA projects to occur every year, of which 110 are children under 10 years of age, according to the Daily Mail, along with 17,000 injuries.
As of 2007, according to an NBC News article from that year, the Kids and Cars Foundation, estimated that around 600 children under age 15 were killed in backing up accidents from 2000 to 2007, most of whom were under age 5.
Ruling expected soon
Mandatory backup cameras would be just one of the safety equipment systems that have to be installed. Others include airbags and stability control systems. Currently, according to AutoGuide, the NHTSA is mulling whether or not to make them mandatory, with a ruling expected by Dec. 31.
Such cameras would add anywhere from $53 to just over $200 to the cost of a new vehicle, which some might rankle at. Granted, some cars might not need them, as some have rearview visibility that is perfectly adequate, but some vehicles’ design poses a risk of backing up accidents, especially large SUVs and vans.
A number of cars do already have them, so it isn’t like one won’t be able to find one if they pop down to, say, Spokane auto dealers and not find a car with them. As of this year, according to the Daily Mail, 44 percent of 2012 models have the cameras as standard and a further 27 percent have them as options. Numerous studies have shown the cameras drastically reduce the chance of a backover accident.