Rearview Camera Rule Still in a Blind Spot

It is often said that a greater good is born of a great tragedy. And, for the families that have lost a loved one or had a family member injured in an automobile accident involving a vehicle in reverse, the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act represents that greater good.

The Act is named for 2-year-old Cameron Gulbransen who was tragically killed when his father accidentally ran him over while backing out of the family's driveway.

While the Act is named for one young boy, this type of accident, tragically, is common. According to the safety advocacy group KidsAndCars.org, back-up accidents injure 50 children, killing two, on average, every week. Sadly, over two-thirds of these accidents involve a driver who is a parent or close family member, reports the New York Times.

Establishing Safety Standards

Signed into law in 2008 by former President George W. Bush, provisions of the Act required the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a division of the federal Department of Transportation, to establish rear-visibility standards for vehicles.

Ami Gadhia, senior policy counsel for Consumers Union, was quoted by CNN as stating: "Every vehicle has a blind zone immediately behind the rear bumper. It can be five feet or 50 feet, depending on the car's styling."

In 2010, the NHTSA announced in a proposal that drivers would need to be able to see into the blind spot directly behind the vehicle when in reverse - which cannot be seen by looking through the rear window or by looking in mirrors. To do so, the NHTSA proposed that all vehicles be equipped with back-up cameras.

The new rule set forth in the NHTSA's proposal was to be phased in over several years. According to the proposal, 10 percent of new vehicles sold in 2012, 40 percent of new vehicles sold by 2013, and 100 percent of new vehicles sold by 2014 would need to be equipped with back-up cameras, according to CNN.

The New York Times reports that even without the regulation mandating the inclusion of review cameras officially on the books, 45 percent of 2012 model-year vehicles already come with the cameras as standard equipment.

Final Rule Delayed

Initially, the NHTSA was to put forth a final rule by February 28, 2011, but that date was pushed back one year. But, as the end of February 2012 approached, it was announced that the date of the final rule had been delayed again, this time until December 31, 2012.

In announcing the delay, Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement that the "department remains committed to improving rearview visibility," but that more research needed to be done. He also said: "Further study and data analysis - including of a wider range of vehicles and drivers - is important to ensure the most protective and efficient rule possible."

The New York Times reports that federal regulators want to resolve the "size of the area that must be shown" and how quickly the camera's image must be displayed on screen once the vehicle is put into reverse.

Statistics

It is projected that the cost of the rule to the automobile industry will be between $1.9 and $2.7 Billion, or an average of $159 to $203 per vehicle - for vehicles that already have a display screens, such as for navigation systems, the cost per vehicle is estimated between $88 and $158 per vehicle.

The New York Times cites government statistics that report nearly 230 people are killed (44 percent of whom are under the age of 5) and another 18,000 pedestrians are injured in back-up accidents per year. Once implemented, the NHTSA estimates that the rule will save between 95 and 112 lives and prevent between an estimated 7,000 and 8,000 injuries per year.

While the number of people killed in back-up accidents is relatively low compared to other types of car accidents, such as distracted driving accidents, the emotional impact may be higher as often back-up accidents involve young children or seniors (seniors account for nearly one-third of people killed in these accidents according to the NHTSA).

Because the injuries suffered in a back-up accident can be very serious, it is important to consult with an experienced New York personal injury attorney following an accident. attorney Bronx personal injury lawyer can explain your legal options to you and help you seek compensation for medical bills, long-term rehabilitation costs and pain and suffering.