February 29 could prove a critical day for aftermarket sellers of backup cameras.
Unless there are further delays from the Fed, Wednesday is the day it should publish clear standards for backup camera inclusion in new cars. This would mark a final stage in enacting a law requiring all new cars include back up cameras by 2014.
And the law is expected to generate a wave of media attention that could boost aftermarket sales.
“This is absolutely going to raise awareness, this is huge news,” said a spokeswoman for KidsandCars.org, which lobbied for the law. It will cause people to think, “If it’s important enough to put on all new vehicles, then I should have one on my 2000 Chevy Tahoe.”
She called it the most significant safety event in the car since the advent of airbags.
Audiovox Electronics President Tom Malone believes there will still be strong aftermarket sales even after the 2014 deadline. So does Steelmate USA National Sales Manager John Lombard. “There will be a huge business for the guy who bought a new car but then thinks, ‘what about the one in the garage at home? My wife’s car doesn’t have one,’” Lombard said.
The law is called the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act of 2008.
Industry members believe the final standards will be similar to the preliminary version which calls for a phased mandatory roll in of the cameras. Auto makers would be required to equip at least 10 percent of their fleet with the devices by 2012, 40 percent by 2013 and 100 percent by 2014.
Still, it is possible that February 29 may see the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) extend the phase-in periods.
The purpose of the law is to prevent injuries and deaths, often involving children, due to blind spots behind the vehicle. NHTSA estimates that non-traffic vehicular incidents cause 33 deaths each week as well as 16,170 injuries per week indriveways and parking lots, with cars that are generally hardly moving.