Rear View Camera Law Stuck in Limbo
A five-year old Rear View Camera Law that requires automobile manufacturers to install visibility aids on passenger vehicles is still in limbo.
Congress passed the Rear View Camera Law in 2008. Advocacy groups began asking for a solution in the 1990s in response to car designs. With higher trunk lines and smaller rear view windows, vehicle designs prevented drivers from seeing directly behind them. The law that eventually passed is named the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act in honor of a child who was killed when his father backed over him in the family’s driveway.
The U.S. Department of Transportation, however, has not yet issued new manufacturing guidelines that enforce the Rear View Camera Law. It would equip cars, trucks, vans and SUVs with a rearview camera and video. The equipment expands drivers’ field of vision so they can see obstacles behind their vehicle. The National Highway Traffic Safety Commission Director Ray LaHood continues to push back the deadline, however. His actions are in response to the auto industry’s request for alternative technology that’s more affordable and just as effective as the rear view cameras. Right now, the deadline is September 2014, but the agency has asked for a two-year extension.
How Much Will the Rear View Camera Technology Cost?
In addition to analyzing data, the NHTSA is considering the Rear View Camera Law’s effect on consumers’ pocketbooks. The cost to install rear view cameras in vehicles that don’t already have dashboard display screens would range from $159 to $203. Vehicles with the screens would cost consumers an additional $58 to $88. Overall, the automobile industry would face a $2 billion cost to implement the law according to the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.
What are Safe Rear View Camera Technology Alternatives?
Joan Claybrook, former head of the NHTSA and former Public Citizen president, advocates for alternative technologies since they’re cheaper options for consumers. Instead of fitting all vehicles with a camera, a wide-angle exterior mirror could be placed on most vehicles. Cameras could be reserved for vehicles with extra-large blind zones.
Are Rear View Cameras Currently Available?
While cameras aren’t required yet, 70 percent of all vehicles manufactured in Japan include the camera safety feature. Only 44 percent of the 2012 vehicle models manufactured in the US include cameras while 27 percent of the US models offer rear view cameras as an option. The NHTSA estimates that the review camera technology could prevent 95 accidents and 7,000 injuries annually.