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Preventing backup accidents: when will cameras be required?

The overwhelming consensus among safety experts is that all cars should have backup cameras in order to help prevent backup accidents. Safety regulators estimate that such cameras could save as many as 300 lives a year.

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), small children and the elderly are especially at risk of death or injury in these accidents. About a third of the deaths each year of children, whose small size makes them less visible to drivers who are backing up. The elderly are particularly vulnerable too, often due to mobility issues.

NHTSA has been trying to develop a backup camera regulation for five years. Congress directed the agency to do so in a traffic safety bill passed in 2007 that was named after a two-year-old boy who was accidentally killed by his father in a backup accident in the family driveway.

In February 2012, however, NHTSA delayed implementation of its proposed rule to require backup cameras in all new vehicles. NHTSA said it wanted to do more analysis on the guidelines for the auto industry to use in including backup cameras in all new vehicles.

As 2012 draws to a close, the agency says it is working on finalizing its proposed backup camera rule by year's end. Obviously that doesn't leave much time, with only one business day left in the year. And even when NHTSA does finalize the rule, the auto industry may ask for up to two years before it is in full compliance for all new vehicles.

The good news is that some carmakers have begun installing the cameras on their own, without waiting for the rule. Japanese models have led the way in this. Nearly 70 percent of cars produced in Japan have rearview cameras.

Source: "Delays litter long road to vehicle rearview rules," Daily Herald, 12-30-12

Our firm handles situations similar to those discussed in this post. To learn more about our practice, please visit our Boston car accident page.

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