New Federal Regulations Will Require Backup Cameras in All Motor Vehicles Within Four Years

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently issued a new regulation that will require all vehicles under 10,000 pounds to have backup cameras by 2018. A lack of rear visibility causes a substantial number of pedestrian injuries and deaths every year. Children face a greater risk, simply because they tend to be smaller and therefore more difficult for a driver to see if they are directly behind a vehicle. A law passed by Congress in 2007 directed the NHTSA to develop regulations by 2011, but multiple delays have occurred since then. A lawsuit filed in September 2013 sought a court order directing the government to issue the rule mandated by the 2007 law.

The NHTSA reports that backover accidents, in which a vehicle strikes a person or another vehicle while driving in reverse, cause around 15,000 injuries and 210 deaths every year. Thirty-one percent of the deaths caused by backover accidents are children under the age of five, and twenty-six percent are adults age seventy and older. The new regulation, which will be added to Part 571 of Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations, will require the installation of backup cameras in new vehicles beginning on May 1, 2016, with full compliance expected by May 1, 2018. Cameras must be able to display a 10-foot by 20-foot area behind the vehicle. The NTHSA estimates a maximum cost of $45 per vehicle to install a camera, or $142 to install a full system. It states that the regulation, once fully implemented, will save fifty-eight to sixty-nine lives per year.

Congress directed the NHTSA to make a rule requiring backup cameras in the Cameron Gulbransen Kids and Cars Safety Act of 2007. The bill was named for a two-year-old child who died when his father, unable to see him in the rearview or sideview mirrors of his SUV, accidentally backed over him in 2002. The bill gave the NHTSA eighteen months to issue a preliminary regulation, with a determination on a final rule required within thirty months of the bill’s enactment. The NTHSA’s final deadline was in February 2011, but it kept delaying a final determination. In its press release announcing the rule on March 31, 2014, the NHTSA stated that it delayed issuance “to ensure that the policy was right and make the rule flexible and achievable.”

In September 2013, a group of parents and car-safety organizations filed a petition for a writ of mandamus, seeking to compel the NHTSA to complete the backup camera rule. In re Gulbransen, No. 13-3645, petition (2nd Cir., Sep. 25, 2013). The petitioners included Dr. Greg Gulbransen, the father of the child for whom the 2007 law was named. At the time, the Department of Transportation (DOT) anticipated that a final rule would be delayed until 2015. During the period of delay from the original deadline in February 2011 until the filing of the lawsuit, the DOT reportedly conceded that 237 to 280 deaths that might have been prevented by backup cameras had occurred.

The attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen help people in the Washington, DC area recover their just compensation when they have suffered injuries in car accidents or other incidents caused by the negligent or unlawful conduct of others. To schedule a free and confidential consultation to discuss your case, please contact us today online or at (800) 654-1949.

More Blog Posts:

Jeeps Recalled for Potential Fuel Tank Rupture Risks, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, June 21, 2013
Cars Collide with Washington DC-Area Fire Engines; Police Remind Drivers of State “Move-Over” Laws, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, September 13, 2013
NHTSA Delays Decision on Backup Cameras in Cars, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, March 22, 2012

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