Roy LaHood, secretary of the Department of Transportation, was set to recommend Congress mandate car makers install back-up cameras on all models. However, he has decided to wait to issue a rule on the matter.
Rule to reduce back-up accidents delayed again
In 2007, a law was passed, according to USA Today, which mandated the Department of Transportation come up with a recommendation and plan for reducing the number of fatalities caused by people backing up. The DOT estimates 292 people are killed annually by cars backing up, 44 percent of which are children under five years of age and 33 percent are senior citizens, in addition to 18,000 injuries in such accidents, according to Work Truck Magazine.
The law mandated that the Department of Transportation come up with a rule by Feb. 28, 2011, which was delayed by Transportation Secretary Roy LaHood until December and again until Feb. 28, 2012. Each time, Secretary LaHood cited inadequate data existing to come up with a solution. The latest idea, which was supposed to be given as the official recommendation, was to mandate that all car makers install back-up cameras in all models sold in the U.S. However, the recommendation has been delayed again.
New rule expected this December
LaHood, according to the New York Times, has extended the deadline until Dec. 31, 2012, by which time he anticipates that sufficient data would be available to make an informed recommendation.
As it stands, the DOT is still likely to recommend that Congress mandate all new cars be fitted with a back-up camera, which the DOT estimates will reduce fatalities by half. There are some issues, such as lag between engaging the reverse gear and the back-up camera turning on and also the time it takes to access a back-up camera through “infotainment” consoles or other viewscreens available to the driver.
It would save lives
Car makers already install the cameras on 45 percent of new models and are available as options on a further 23 percent of new models. The addition of the cameras is thought to add anywhere from $53 to $203 per vehicle, according to Businessweek. All told, the auto industry is expected to have to spend an additional $2.7 billion per year.
The human and emotional costs of the accidents are also high. The Kansas-based organization KidsandCars.org estimates that every week 50 children are backed over, resulting in two fatalities. Children 1 year old or younger are the most likely to be backed over. Worse yet, 70 percent of accidents involve either a parent or family member behind the wheel.