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Proposed Rear Visibility Requirements Closer to Implementation?

Spohrer Dodd

Later this month (unless an extension is requested) the White House Office of Management and Budget should be wrapping up its review of and potentially finalizing the Department of Transportation’s latest proposed rear visibility rules, designed to minimize the risk of pedestrian deaths from vehicles in reverse. It’s a move that auto accident and personal injury attorneys, along with dozens of child safety-related advocacy organizations, support. But will it go far enough to truly help?

The DOT’s current proposal isn’t available for public review, but news sources say it would require car and truck manufacturers to improve rear visibility in new vehicles by installing rearview cameras or similar technology. It’s that “or similar technology,” which can include specially designed rearview mirrors, that has some safety advocates concerned. They argue rearview cameras are the top proven mechanism for significantly reducing the risk of back-up accidents. And they’ve been putting both the DOT and the National Highway Safety Transportation Administration to task for delays on issuing rear visiblity rules for several years now.

Their frustration is certainly warranted. Research shows that upward of 210 Americans are killed each year in backup accidents, and that more than half of the victims fatally injured are children. Another 15,000 suffer non-fatal injuries annually. Congress passed a law back in 2007 that compelled the DOT to have a rear-visibility rule in place by 2011, but Americans still wait.

Meanwhile, the good news is that many automobile manufacturers are answering the call anyway. Statistics show 53 percent of 2013 model cars have a standard backup camera, and Honda recently announced it will become the first carmaker to offer backup cameras as standard equipment across its entire lineup when the 2015 Honda Fit hits showrooms.