Rearview cameras could become standard equipment by 2014, if a new proposal by the Department of Transportation makes its way into law.
The DOT is expected to require that all vehicles make available to drivers, an unobstructed 180-degree rear view of their car's surroundings when the car is in reverse gear. Given the hard points of today's vehicles, the rule would essentially require standard rearview cameras like those embedded in rearview mirrors (above) or those that display inside a navigation unit screen.
The DOT's vehicle-safety agency, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), says that nearly 300 people die each year as a result of back-up accidents. The NHTSA also attributes 18,000 injuries to the scenario, pointing out that children and elderly pedestrians are in the highest-risk group for back-up accidents.
Underscoring the move, Consumer Reports today issued a report from its test of blind-spot zones on vehicles. By placing a toddler-height cone behind different vehicles, at different distances behind the vehicle, the publication found that blind spots on SUVs are particularly troubling, while those of small sportscars are better for preventing back-up accidents. The video below illustrates CR's study.
The NHTSA and DOT will likely phase in their new rules beginning in 2012, with all new vehicles sold after September 2014 held to the new standard-camera requirement.