COVID-19 UPDATE: We are open! Our team is working and offering consultations via phone, e-mail, and video conferencing.

NHTSA Implements New Rule Amid Death of 2-Year-Old Boy

Injuries and deaths from vehicle backup accidents are surprisingly more common than people may think. On average, there are roughly 15,000 injuries and 200 deaths every year from backup auto accidents.

Federal officials indicate that 30 percent of these incidents involve children under 5 years of age. Elderly individuals also make up a large percentage of victims involved in backup accidents. Those 70 years of age and older account for 26 percent of all vehicle backup injuries and deaths.

Fortunately, the federal government is taking action to help reduce these incidences. A new rule was recently published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration - the federal agency part of the Department of Transportation tasked with enforcing and implementing motor vehicle safety standards.

The New Rule: Backup Vehicle Cameras

The rule comes from a law signed in 2008 in the name of a 2-year-old boy who was killed in a backup vehicle accident roughly a decade ago.

Essentially, the new rule will require all new vehicles manufactured on or after May 1, 2018 to come equipped with vehicle backup cameras, or rearview technology.

Rearview technology is not a new invention; many automobiles today already come equipped with the technology. Approximately 44 percent of automobiles manufactured in 2012 came equipped with some form of backup camera or sensor. But, in the next few years, all newly manufactured vehicles are mandated to be outfitted with the gear.

Specifics of the New Rearview Camera Rule

The rule is specific on the requirements of the technology. Automakers must manufacturer the cameras to provide drivers with a backward field-of-vision that is at least 10 by 20 feet. The rule also stipulates specific dashboard dimensions, lighting, and display requirements. The rule will apply to all cars, buses, and trucks under 10,000 pounds. Motorcycles and trailers will remain exempt.

Opponents of the rule argue that it will incur a financial burden on automakers already struggling from the downturn of the economy over the past decade. However, the NHTSA indicates that the cost is nominal when weighed against the benefits the technology will provide to citizens. The agency expects the rearview technology to cost between $132-$142 per vehicle and even less for automobiles that already come equipped with dashboard screens.

According to the NHTSA, the new vehicle backup mandate is expected to prevent over 1000 back up injuries annually.

Ellen Bloom, senior director of federal policy at Consumers Union, is urging vehicle manufacturers to move fast to "beat the 2018 deadline."