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Feds To Delay 2012 Rearview Camera Requirement

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A new safety requirement that would require rearview camera systems in all new vehicles by 2014 might be delayed, as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has asked Congress for more time to finalize the new rules.

As we reported a few months ago, the U.S. Department of Transportation and NHTSA (its vehicle safety agency) proposed that all vehicles provide an unobstructed, 180-degree view rearward when the vehicle is being reversed.

We're all too aware that rearward visibility—especially when parking—in many of today's utility vehicles, as well as some other types of vehicles—can be quite horrible. Take a look at the Safety tab in any of our new-car reviews and you're likely to find at least a sentence summing up outward visibility.

And contrary to what some shoppers first think—that they'll get a better view out in a larger utility vehicle—bigger and taller vehicles are some of the worst offenders. Consumer Reports has in recent months started testing vehicle blind-spot zones in vehicles—measuring the how close you can get to a toddler-height cone while still seeing it from the driver's position—and found outward visibility from some full-size pickups and sport-utility vehicles to be the worst. The best new models (with the shortest blind zones) included the 2011 Toyota Yaris, 2011 Mazda MX-5, 2011 Volvo C30, and 2011 MazdaSpeed3.

The proposed federal requirement would put back-up cameras into ten percent of all vehicles by 2012, then 40 percent by 2013 and all vehicles by 2014.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly 300 people die each year from back-up accidents, and about 18,000 annual injuries are attributed to the lack of rearward visibility in such incidents in driveways, shopping-center parking lots, and the like.

NHTSA estimates that 100 of those lives could be saved annually if vehicles had back-up camera systems. About that many annual fatalities involve children age five and younger.

Currently these systems are often packaged with navigation systems, which themselves are often part of costly upgrade packages adding thousands of dollars to the sticker price. That's why, although they're available in a wide range of models, they're not equipped in as many vehicles as you might think.

But it won't cost automakers thousands to add these devices. The regulation, according to government estimates, would add up to $203 in costs per vehicle, while it could cost as little as $58 for vehicles already with the display.

For those watching the bottom line on vehicles, this isn't the only thing adding cost to new vehicles. The higher-tech engines and transmissions, along with weight-saving materials, required by looming corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) requirements.

[Detroit News]

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Comments (8)
  1. Given that less than 1% of fatalities involve backing vehicles, I have to think that improved side impact protection or better child car seat anchors would provide more safety for the money.
    This regulation was mandated by Congress, with no regard to the cost and benefits. It was not the result of any sort of economic or engineering study on the best way to spend safety dollars.
     
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  2. Any life that can be saved is a blessing. We should have required them a while ago.
     
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  3. For absolute safety they could put square wheels on cars. True that any life saved is blessing but it is just silly to require cameras.
     
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  4. If you can't figure out how your mirrors work, you shouldn't be driving. If you want a back-up camera in your car that's fine, but mandating them is one more add-on that drives up the cost, making it impossible for some to affoard the most basic entry level new car.
     
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  5. If you can't figure out how your mirrors work, you shouldn't be driving. If you want a back-up camera in your car that's fine, but mandating them is one more add-on that drives up the cost, making it impossible for some to affoard the most basic entry level new car.
     
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  6. I started installing rear view cameras in my fleet of trucks in 2003 - just new purchases. It is 2011 and I am at about 80% coverage with 1,000 in service. Initial costs were $600 per truck. Now - $175. Well worth the improved safety in my opinion.
     
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  7. I started installing rear view cameras in my fleet of trucks in 2003 - just new purchases. It is 2011 and I am at about 80% coverage with 1,000 in service. Initial costs were $600 per truck. Now - $175. Well worth the improved safety in my opinion.
     
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  8. How about making reverse lights visible from the sides and rear, and making it illegal for them to be on when you aren't in reverse? As far as protecting children...there is such a thing called Darwinism.
     
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