The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has sent a long-delayed rule requiring automakers to put rearview cameras or similar technology in new vehicles to the White House for final review. The regulation will be reviewed by the White House’s Office of Management and Budget. The agency proposed the rule back in December 2010. This came after Congress passed the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act, a 2008 law directing the agency to improve rear visibility in new vehicles. The rule is designed to prevent drivers from backing over children and pedestrians. We are now in 2014 and the rule has not become a reality.
Under the version of the rule proposed in 2010, automakers would have to manufacture passenger cars, trucks and other vehicles so that drivers can see the area immediately behind the vehicle when it is in reverse. The agency maintained at the time that the only available technology to meet that specification was a rear-mounted camera with an in-vehicle visual display. The DOT estimated, when it proposed the rule, that it could cost up to $2.7 billion to equip a fleet of 16.6 million new vehicles with rearview cameras. While on the surface that seems like a huge amount, it’s actually only about $165 per vehicle if my math is correct.
While the Gulbransen Act required the DOT to finalize the rule by February 2011, the agency has pushed back the deadline multiple times, most recently to January 2015. Consumers Union, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, and several others are petitioning the Second Circuit Court of Appeals to force the DOT to release a final rule within 90 days.
The version of the rule sent to the OMB is not public. The proposed rule would have required that all eligible vehicles comply with its requirements by September 2014, which would be 42 months after the regulation was supposed to have been finalized. According to the Consumers Union petition, nearly 300 people a year are killed, and 18,000 more are injured, by drivers backing into them with their vehicles. The petition said that most of the victims are children younger than age 5, people older than 75 and people with disabilities. Hopefully, the petition will be grated!
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