The Obama administration revealed last month that it would delay important safety rules that would mandate backup cameras come installed in all new vehicles. Despite the importance of the measure, regulators now say they expect to make a decision at some point in the next 18 months.
The decision to delay implementation of the backup camera requirement angered safety advocates who say they have been pushing the federal government to require the cameras for years. Despite the pressure, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood informed Congress that final requirements might not be released until January of 2015. When the idea was first proposed, the goal was to have backup cameras fully implemented by September of 2014.
The delay marks the fifth time the government has postponed deciding the issue. Safety experts say the continued delays should be seen as clear victories for automakers who have lobbied aggressively against the mandate. The car companies claim such a requirement would be very expensive to install in all vehicles and have devoted considerable resources to fighting the measure. Even Secretary LaHood appears to have accepted this line of argument, saying that the cameras would be an expensive rule and that the government is still working on ways to bring down the costs. Car companies claim that such a mandate would cost the industry between $1.9 and $2.7 billion each year.
Though no formal requirements have been released yet, the government says that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will work hard to encourage car companies to install the cameras voluntarily. Though backup cameras are available on many vehicles, they are almost always sold as costly upgrades. Some rare exceptions include Honda CR-Vs and Accords, which come with backup cameras as a standard feature.
Though some may view the backup cameras as fun gadgets, the truth is they are valuable safety tools. The cameras are important because they allow drivers to get an accurate view of the space behind their vehicle. This is important because the trunks of most vehicles prevent drivers from seeing objects that are immediately behind their car. Statistics have shown that at least 50 small children are killed every year because drivers are unable to see them in their rear view mirrors while reversing. A backup camera is meant to correct this disadvantage and increase road safety for everyone. Though installing them on all vehicles may not be cheap, the benefits surely exceed the cost.