Watch your back, drivers! Seriously, that’s going to be the official rule of the road in a few years.
On Monday, the US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a new safety rule requiring all new vehicles to be equipped with rearview cameras by May 2018.
The agency says the new rule is intended to curb the risk of fatalities and serious injuries caused by “backover accidents.”
“Safety is our highest priority, and we are committed to protecting the most vulnerable victims of backover accidents — our children and seniors,” US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement. “As a father, I can only imagine how heart wrenching these types of accidents can be for families, but we hope that today’s rule will serve as a significant step toward reducing these tragic accidents.”
According to the NHTSA, there are 210 fatalities and 15,000 injuries every year caused by backover incidents. The agency also found that children under 5 years old account for 31 percent of fatalities and adults age 70 years and older account for 26 percent.
The new rule applies to all vehicles under 10,000 pounds, including buses and trucks, manufactured on or after May 1, 2018. After this date, vehicles must come equipped with a rearview camera system that offers a 10-foot by 20-foot zone view directly behind the vehicle.
The NHTSA points out that many auto companies are already installing rear visibility systems in their vehicles due to consumer demand. The agency expects 58 to 69 lives to be saved each year once all on-road vehicles are equipped with rearview camera technology.
The new rule drew praise from Consumers Union, the advocacy organization behind “Consumer Reports.” The group was part of a larger coalition of safety advocates that sued the US Department of Transportation in an effort to pass the rearview camera mandate. The US Court of Appeals was scheduled to hear arguments on the rule on April 1.
In a statement, Consumers Union senior director of federal policy Ellen Bloom said, “This rule is going to make a profound difference in public safety, especially for children. We thank the Administration for finalizing the rule, which will help save lives and prevent injuries. This day has been a long time coming, and we urge automakers to move quickly to beat the 2018 deadline.”Sanjay Salomon can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @SanjaySalomon.