Back Up Cameras For Massachusetts Vehicles

Can backup cameras reduce Massachusetts auto accidents? While almost 50% of new motor vehicles have back up cameras on 23 models, the US Department of Transportation is considering a regulation that would require all new vehicles to have back up cameras. This is derived from the 2008 law passed by Congress requiring increased rear view visibility standards.

That law, called the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act, was named for a 2 year old whose father, a physician, inadvertently ran his son over while backing up an SUV in his own driveway. According to an National Highway Transportation Safety Adminisgtration study, 43% of backover deaths are in a driveway.
While the regulation has been written for vehicles starting in 2014, this past week the Transportation Secretary announced another delay in imposing the new regulation. The reasons are likely to include significant pressure from industry, whose lobbying group asked for “alternatives.” The cameras would cost about $200 per vehicle that would likely be passed on to the consumers.
It is worth noting that the cost was estimated at over $325 back in 2006, which the initial report to Congress was completed. Alternatives include various mirrors that would be less expensive than cameras. Another popular alternative is the beeping radar sensors. The author of this blog has one and it’s not that effective. Further, it doesn’t account for people or other objects that may move into the vicinity suddenly. The NHTSA study concluded that there were many “holes” in this beeper system. Video cameras are the “most comprehensive and cost effective” according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.
Consumer advocates, including Joan Claybrook, the former head of the NHTSA, charge the auto industry of delay tactics. The University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute concludes that back up cameras would give manufactures an edge. Consumer advocates note that there have been no safety features added for pedestrians since the addition of the third break light rule, added in the 1980s.
While the government, industry and consumer lobbyists jostle over the regulation, we pause to look at whether there is a true need for rear view back up cameras for motor vehicles. Vehicles have changed: SUV’s and trucks have large blind spots, but new cars do as well. The Cadillac CTS, for example, has a 101-foot long blind spot! The NHTSA study indicates that vans are more than twice as likely to cause backover crashes. And, according to the US DOT there are an average of 300 deaths each year from vehicles backing up. Half of those deaths are children, under the age of 5. Further, each week there are an estimated 50 children injured from motor vehicle back ups. The total number of injuries is 17,000 per year; and it is estimated that with back up cameras we could avoid up to 8,374 injuries per year.
We have represented thousands of people who have been injured in Massachusetts vehicles, including victims of backovers in Boston and pedestrian accidents in Massachusetts. Call us at 617-227-7423 for a free consultation.