Starting in 2014, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will likely require automakers to install rearview cameras as standard equipment in all passenger vehicles.
It is estimated that the cameras could prevent more than 100 fatal accidents every year.
Each week, on average, two children are killed and 50 more are injured when a driver accidentally backs over them. In the vast majority of cases, the children are hidden in the vehicle’s rear blind spot. Even if the driver looks in the rearview mirror, he or she can’t see these children.
Some vehicles, especially SUVs, trucks, and passenger vehicles with high trunk lids, have enormous blind spots. The vehicle testing firm Edmuds.com measured a blind spot of about 40 feet behind most Toyota and Honda minivans. By contrast, a Cadillac CTS-V coupe has a blind spot that is more than 100 feet long.
Over the last several decades, automakers and regulators have made a number of improvements designed to protect vehicle occupants from the dangers of car accidents. However, this is one of the first major safety moves intended to protect people outside the vehicles.
In an interview with the New York Times, the director of the Center for Auto Safety admitted that backover deaths account for a relatively low number of fatalities when compared with other types of auto accidents. However, he noted that “in terms of emotional tragedy, backover deaths are some of the worst imaginable. When you have a parent that kills a child in an incident that’s utterly avoidable, they don’t ever forget it.”
Indeed, many back-over deaths happen as a result of what experts call “bye-bye syndrome,” in which a child is killed after running outside to wave goodbye to a departing vehicle.
The cameras are not expected to be too expensive. On average, they should cost between $160 and $200 per vehicle. This is certainly a small price to pay to save the life of a child.