A federal agency said yesterday it will recommend that new cars include backup camera systems but it fell short of making the cameras mandatory. And the Fed announcement came just after a consumer group said it will sue the government today, over the issue.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said backup cameras will be included in its New Car Assessment Program, which means it will list all the car models that include backup cameras on a public web site and then begin listing those vehicles as having “recommended” safety technology.
Consumer groups said the action does not go far enough, said CNN and Fox News. The groups said backup cameras should be mandatory on new cars as recommended in a 2008 law that has yet to be implemented.
To force the issue, a suit was filed today (and announced Tuesday) seeking that backup cameras be made mandatory within 90 days. The suit was filed by people including Greg Gulbransen who backed over his child and whose name is on the 2008 law calling for mandatory backup cameras that has yet to be enacted.
The suit was also filed by Susan Auriemma who backed over her child, Consumers Union of the United States, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, and Kids And Cars, Inc. It is a petition to the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York claiming that the DOT has unreasonably delayed its 2008 ruling.
In 2008, Congress enacted the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act, which directed DOT to issue a ruling to improve rear visibility in cars through backup cameras or other means. The bill was signed into law and gave the DOT 3 years to make its ruling to improve visibility. But the deadline came and went after many delays. Originally it was expected that backup cameras would be made mandatory by 2014.
Backup cameras are now available on 7 out of 10 new vehicles as standard or optional equipment. But deaths from backover incidents continue to grow and more than 200 people are killed and 17,000 injured each year as a result, says the Dept. of Transportation. Almost half of the victims are under the age of 5.
Half of backover deaths could be prevented by backup cameras said NHTSA itself in late 2010. It would cost about $180 per vehicle to include the cameras in new cars.