Rearview cameras in cars, trucks, and SUVs are not going away, but it will take a while before they become mandatory. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration was poised to send Congress the final draft of its rule that would have required automakers to install the cameras on all new passenger cars over the next few years. Instead, NHTSA postponed its mandate that automakers install the cameras, which allow drivers to see behind their vehicles when they shift into reverse.

Rear visibility came into the national spotlight in 2002 after a 2-year-old was killed when his father accidentally backed over him. Congress responded with legislation calling for NHTSA to issue regulations aimed at reducing such accidents, which frequently involve children. NHTSA expects to issue its final rule by the end of 2012.

The Statistics

Requiring cameras to allow drivers to see objects or people behind their cars, a major blind spot, would involve significant costs but would likely prevent many West Virginia car accident injuries and deaths. An average of 229 deaths — 44 percent of which are children under age 5 — and an additional 18,000 injuries occur each year when vehicles collide with people while backing up. NHTSA estimates that requiring rearview cameras could save approximately 100 lives and prevent at least 7,000 to 8,000 injuries annually.

Car, Pickup, and SUV Accidents

Although pickups and SUVs are typically thought to have wider blind spots than passenger cars due to their height and width, even small cars can have severe rear visibility problems. According to the New York Times, the increasing number of passenger cars designed with low driver’s seats and high trunk lids have especially poor rear visibility, leading to accidents.

According to the Times, rearview cameras came standard in 45 percent of 2012 model-year vehicles and were optional in 23 percent of vehicles. Auto industry experts expect these percentages will increase, especially since automakers anticipated having to comply with the NHTSA rule and plan accordingly.

Victims of backover accidents that result in death or injuries should contact a personal injury attorney to advise them on any available claims and discuss seeking damages if there are any potentially liable parties.

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