New cars must be equipped with rear visibility technology by mid-2018 under a rule that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says will reduce fatalities and serious injuries from backover car accidents.
The U.S. Department of Transportation proposed the regulations in 2010, two years after Congress called for changes in response to accidents involving drivers who backed their vehicles over young children, causing fatal injuries.
In an average year, backover accidents cause 15,000 injuries and 210 deaths, according to the NHTSA. Many of these accidents occur in driveways or parking lots and affect the most vulnerable victims – children under five years old and senior citizens.
The new rule will start phasing in camera installations on 2016 vehicles and will apply to all new vehicles under 10,000 pounds by May 1, 2018.
The agency projects backup cameras will save 58 to 69 lives per year when the mandate goes into full effect.
The NHTSA estimates it will cost between $43 and $45 to install cameras on vehicles equipped with an appropriate display screen. It will cost approximately $132 to $142 to install a rearview camera system along with a display screen.
The new regulation requires backup technology to provide a view of a 10-foot by 20-foot area directly behind the vehicle. Kidsandcars.org, an organization that advocates for the safety of children around cars, defines a “blind zone” as the large area around vehicles where backover or frontover accidents are most likely to occur. These blind zones usually measure 7 to 8 feet wide and 20 to 30 feet long.
In today’s marketplace, most new vehicles are available with a backup camera as an option, and they are already popular.
In addition to keeping kids and other pedestrians safe around cars, backup cameras allow for better visibility in busy parking lots and make parallel parking easier.
Tips for Avoiding Backover Accidents
The NHTSA website Safercar.gov offers tips to help you keep kids and others safe around vehicles.
- Before moving your vehicle, walk around and behind it to make sure the area is clear and make sure you can see every child in the vicinity standing in the yard or on the sidewalk before you start driving.
- When your car is parked in the driveway, set the emergency brake and teach children that the area around your car is not a playground.
- Supervise children around vehicles. Have another adult help supervise them before you start driving
- Train your children to move away from a vehicle when a driver gets in or when the car starts up.
- Watch out for small children and remember: the smaller the child, the harder it is to see him or her. Kids ages 12 months to 23 months are among the most vulnerable.
- Make sure you look behind your vehicle and back out of your driveway slowly in case a child suddenly dashes into your path
- If kids are playing in the area, it is a good idea to roll down your car windows as you back out so you will be able to hear if anyone calls out.
- Keep the area around your driveway clear. Remove toys and sports equipment and trim bushes and hedges for maximum visibility
Never leave children alone in or around cars. Keep the doors locked and keep keys and remote openers out of reach.