Officials from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced in March 2014 that all new vehicles under 10,000 pounds, including small buses and trucks, must have rearview visibility technology by May 2018. Rearview visibility technology often consists of a small camera placed on the back of a vehicle; the camera takes live video which is displayed on a monitor on the dashboard. Such systems expand a driver’s visibility beyond what they can normally see in mirrors while backing up a vehicle. Under the new NHTSA requirement, a rearview visibility technology system must provide a field of view that is a 10-foot by 20-foot zone directly behind the vehicle. In addition, such systems will have requirements pertaining to image size, linger time, response time, deactivation and durability.
According to statistics released by the Department of Transportation (DOT), 210 fatalities and 15,000 injuries occur each year as a result of backover accidents. Children under the age of five-years-old account for 31 percent of backover fatalities. Moreover, adults ages 70 years old or older account for 26 percent of such fatalities. The new rear visibility technology requirements are expected to save between 58 to 69 lives each year.
While many car manufacturers are already making vehicles with such technology as a result of consumer demand, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx pointed out that making such systems a requirement will improve overall safety on the roads. He stated, “Safety is our highest priority, and we are committed to protecting the most vulnerable victims of backover accidents–our children and seniors. As a father, I can only imagine how heart wrenching these types of accidents can be for families, but we hope that today’s rule will serve as a significant step toward reducing these tragic accidents.”
NHTSA Acting Administrator David Friedman stated that rear visibility technology was already a part of the agency’s New Ca Assessment Program (NCAP), a program that informs consumers about new safety features, such a forward collision warning systems, in vehicles. Friedman remarked, “Rear visibility requirements will save lives, and will save many families from the heartache after these tragic incidents occur. We’re already recommending this kind of life-saving technology through our NCAP program and encouraging consumers to consider it when buying cars today.”
Greg Gulbransen, a pediatrician in Oyster Bay, New York, accidentally backed over his two-year old son in 2002, resulting in his tragic death. Since then, Gulbransen has spent the past twelve years lobbying lawmakers and governmental agencies to require rearview visibility technology in all new vehicles. Commenting on the NHTSA’s new rule, he stated, “It’s been a long hard fight, and this is rule took too long, but we’re thrilled this day has finally come. I’m glad we could channel our grief into a policy change. That was important.”
Website Resource: Mandatory backup cams could save 69 lives a year. Dad who fatally injured son in accident claims ruling took too long, Tech Times, Michael McEnaney, April 4, 2014
NHTSA Announces Final Rule Requiring Rear Visibility Technology