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Feds announce rule requiring backup cameras on new vehicles


Roll-over accidents are far too common in Massachusetts and the rest of the country, predominantly affecting two of the nation’s most vulnerable populations: children and senior citizens. The accidents occur when motorists accidentally back over victims who are standing or sitting behind the vehicles in blind spots.

Rear view mirrors are not enough to prevent these tragic accidents, safety advocates say, and data from the Department of Transportation backs up this argument. In a report from 2010, the DOT concluded that 210 people are killed each year in roll-over accidents involving cars and lightweight trucks.

Recognizing that backup cameras could be the answer to this problem, Congress passed legislation that ordered the DOT to have a rule in place by 2011 requiring all new cars and light trucks to have “rear-view visibility systems” installed by the 2014 model year.

However, to the disappointment of safety advocates, this deadline was not met. In effort to move things along, two families who lost children in deadly roll-over accidents filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration in September over the inaction.

Oral arguments were set to take place on Tuesday, but on Monday, the DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced that it had made progress on the issue.

The NHTSA announced that it has proposed a rule that would require automakers to install backup cameras or other backup warning devices on all new cars and light trucks by the May 1, 2018 models. The rule would require automakers to begin phasing in the rule on May 1, 2016 models.

The NHTSA projected that 58 to 69 lives per year will be saved once all vehicles in America are equipped with backup cameras or warning devices by around the year 2054.

Although it isn’t clear if the lawsuit against the Obama administration had anything to do with the NHTSA’s announcement, it is certainly possible.

Civil litigation often gets a bad rap in the United States, but people tend to forget about all of the important safety changes that have resulted because of lawsuits that were filed by average citizens against the government and other powerful entities.

Source: USA TODAY, “NHTSA to require backup cameras on all vehicles,” Chris Woodyard, April 1, 2014


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