The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is proposing a mandate to Congress, requiring auto makers to equip all new passenger vehicles with rearview cameras by 2014. The cameras primary benefit would be to reduce the fatal car accidents involving vehicles backing over pedestrians, most often children. The mandate, first proposed in 2010, has been discussed by numerous safety groups as the best way to combat a common, and tragic, form of accident. This is one of the first measures proposed by the NHTSA designed to protect pedestrians from motor vehicles.
Nearly half of all backover fatalities involve children under the age of 5. Roughly two-thirds of those accidents involve a parent or close relative driving over the child. Few accidents are as horrifying and heart-wrenching as those involving the so-called "bye-bye syndrome" where children hurry out to wave goodbye to a parent and the parent does not see them. A non-profit group organized to improve safety for children in and around cars was a major proponent of the proposed legislations.
The requirement may hasten a process that was already well under way. Forty-five percent of 2012 motor vehicles already have a rearview camera as standard equipment. Many more offer a camera as an optional feature. By requiring these safety devices, auto makers could greatly reduce the number of backover injuries affecting children and adults.
This type of injury has been on the rise in recent years. Ironically, in an effort to improve the safety of drivers and passengers in on-road accidents, vehicle makers have reduced drivers' ability to see objects directly behind them. The cameras would rectify that problem without sacrificing the safety gains of having less glass to see through. Reducing every form of car accident is a laudable goal. Hopefully, this measure will help protect pedestrians from the growing threat of backover injuries.
Source: The New York Times, "U.S. Rule Set for Cameras at Cars' Rear," by Nick Bunkley, 27 February 2012