The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is proposing new regulations to mandate back-up cameras in all passenger cars, trucks, minivans and buses with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or less. If the proposed law goes into effect, automakers must get 10 percent of the fleet in compliance by 2012, 40 percent by 2013 and 100 percent of new vehicles by 2014.

These measures are being proposed by NHTSA to try and reduce the number of back-over fatalities and injuries that occur on a yearly basis. According to NHTSA, 292 people die every year from back-over accidents while another 18,000 are injured. Will making rearview cameras mandatory help curb this? Is it possible but is this another case where drivers are moving further away from knowing actual driving skills and closer to reliance on digital assistance?

In this case, perhaps not. Rearview cameras simply allow for a better picture of what's going on behind your vehicle, and with rollover standards and the increasing size of vehicles, rearward visibility in new vehicles seems to be getting worse, not better. Still, if NHTSA's proposal becomes law, there will be added cost passed on to consumers. Most luxury vehicles are already equipped with this technology – particularly those with navigation systems – but even if the systems aren't that expensive for automakers to install, they're likely to have a disproportionate impact on the MSRPs of inexpensive models.

In any case, you can read some more insight into NHTSA's proposal in their official press release after the jump.

[Source: NHTSA | Image: Damon Lavrinc/Autoblog/AOL]
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U.S. DOT Proposes Rear View Visibility Rule to Protect Kids and the Elderly

Regulation Is Aimed at Preventing Accidental Fatalities and Injuries to Pedestrians in Low-Speed Back-Up Accidents

The U.S. Department of Transportation today proposed a new safety regulation to help eliminate blind zones behind vehicles that can hide the presence of pedestrians, especially young children and the elderly. The proposed rule was required by Congress as part of the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act of 2007. Two-year old Cameron Gulbransen, for whom the Act is named, was killed when his father accidentally backed over him in the family's driveway.

"There is no more tragic accident than for a parent or caregiver to back out of a garage or driveway and kill or injure an undetected child playing behind the vehicle," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "The changes we are proposing today will help drivers see into those blind zones directly behind vehicles to make sure it is safe to back up."

The proposal, issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), would expand the required field of view for all passenger cars, pickup trucks, minivans, buses and low-speed vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of up to 10,000 pounds so that drivers can see directly behind the vehicle when the vehicle's transmission is in reverse. NHTSA believes automobile manufacturers will install rear mounted video cameras and in-vehicle displays to meet the proposed standards. To meet the requirements of the proposed rule, ten percent of new vehicles must comply by Sept. 2012, 40 percent by Sept. 2013 and 100 percent by Sept. 2014.

"The steps we are taking today will help reduce back-over fatalities and injuries not only to children, but to the elderly, and other pedestrians," said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. "And while these changes will make a difference, drivers must remember that no technology can, or should, replace full attention and vigilance when backing up. Always know where your children are before you start your car and make sure you check that there is no one behind you before you back up."

NHTSA estimates that, on average, 292 fatalities and 18,000 injuries occur each year as a result of back-over crashes involving all vehicles. Of these, 228 fatalities involve light vehicles weighing 10,000 pounds or less. Two particularly vulnerable populations – children and the elderly – are affected most. Approximately 44 percent of fatalities involving light vehicles are children under five–an unusually high percentage for any particular type of crash. In addition, 33 percent of fatalities involving light vehicles are elderly people 70 years of age or older.

NHTSA is providing a 60-day comment period on this rulemaking that begins when the proposal is published in the Federal Register. The proposal and information about how to submit comments is at:

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