Hundreds of children have been killed by vehicles being backed up while federal officials delayed ordering automakers to equip vehicles with improved rear-visibility technology.
Legislation approved by Congress and signed by President George W. Bush in 2008 included a clear directive: Federal transportation officials had three years to draft a rule requiring vehicles to afford drivers better rear visibility or take other steps to reduce the risks of backing up, such as adding sensors.
But in the face of opposition and lobbying from automakers, who contend that rearview cameras would boost the cost of every new vehicle by as much as $200, the U.S. Department of Transportation has delayed action several times, most recently in August.
Meanwhile, the death toll from accidents involving vehicles being backed up is pegged at nearly 300 a year, more than 100 of them children under the age of 5.
A group that filed suit to force action on backup cameras last month includes a New York woman who backed into her 3-year-old daughter in 2005, injuring her; and a New York man who backed into his 2-year-old son in their driveway in 2002, killing him. The 2008 law was named for that boy, Cameron Gulbransen.
As the lawsuit to force action on the commonsense legislation moves through the courts, it’s clear that the auto industry itself has effectively embraced backup cameras even as it has fought efforts to require them. More and more vehicles are being equipped with the cameras as an optional or even standard feature, which means legions of car buyers have already come to accept them, along with the added cost.
The Philadelphia Inquirer