As many as two children, mainly those two-years-old and younger, per week are fatally injured in a back-up motor vehicle accident. An additional 48 are injured. Despite these statistics, the Department of Transportation has decided to once again delay mandating all vehicles come equipped with rearview assist backup cameras.
A majority of the fatal pedestrian accidents occur when drivers of larger vehicles with larger blind spots back up, not realizing or being able to see that a child is behind them. The blind spot on the average sedan is approximately 12 feet deep. A minivan or SUV has a 15 foot blind spot. A pickup truck’s blind zone is twice that, at 30 feet.
Equipping all vehicles with back up cameras would cost about $200 per vehicle to the consumer in an increased sticker price. That equates to about $2.7 billion in total cost to save almost 100 lives per year.
Originally, the Department of Transportation (DOT) was supposed to have created new standards to prevent backup injuries by February of 2011. That date was pushed back to March 1, 2012, and has now been pushed back again. The target date for new standards is now in December.
DOT Secretary Ray LaHood said that more research and review is needed before the new standards are created. One item of contention is the time it takes for the backup cameras to show what is behind the vehicle. The DOT wants the image from behind the car to show on-screen within one second of the car being shifted into reverse. Carmakers are arguing for a longer delay, up to three seconds, so that the systems have a chance to boot up.
The delay by the DOT likely means that back up cameras will not be universally required on all vehicles starting in 2014 as was originally hoped. 2014 models will likely be available in January of 2013, just a few days after the new December deadline.