After years of research and evaluation of proposed rules, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced this month that it would requiring rear-view cameras to be installed in cars, trucks, SUVs, and other vehicles manufactured on or after May 1, 2018.


The federal agency said the requirement for “rear visibility technology” would apply to all vehicles that weigh less than 10,000 pounds. According to U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, the new requirement primarily aims to address back-over accidents. The NHTSA believes the mandate “will serve as a significant step toward reducing these tragic accidents.”

The rules will require that the affected vehicles feature a camera system that displays a 10-foot by 20-foot zone of visibility behind the auto when it is shifted into reverse. Because this arrangement will enable drivers to see a considerable array of space behind the vehicle without straining to turn around, the theory is that the requirement will reduce the number of accidents in which people, animals, and vehicles are struck by a car or small truck when it backs up.

Statistics for reverse-driving accidents

According to government statistics, this rule could have a significant effect in reducing the 15,000 injuries and 210 deaths that occur annually as a result of this kind of accident. The injuries and deaths are of particular concern because of the fact that most of the victims fall into two distinct categories: the elderly and the very young.

The NHTSA reports that people aged 70 years or older are victims in 26 percent of the total fatal back-over incidents, and children aged less than 5 years are killed in 31 percent of these incidents. According to the calculations of the NHTSA, the new rule is expected to save up to 69 lives annually.

To ensure reliability, effectiveness, and consistency, the NHTSA has regulations regarding the size of display, deactivation, response time, unit durability, and other issues.

Other effects of the rear-view camera mandate

The new rules will not just help to reduce the risk of accidents and injuries through the use of new — though for some drivers, already familiar — technology. In addition to the safety of consumers, the mandate will also affect auto manufacturers as well as the makers of rear-view camera components.

A surge in the demand will be beneficial for component manufacturers, obviously, while the required inclusion will slightly increase costs for vehicle manufacturers. However, in an attempt to offset the increase in expense, some vehicle manufacturers may decide it’s worth it simply to make the cameras and their components in-house.

This would not be beneficial for the companies who solely manufacture the rear-view cameras, but it’s too early to tell what will happen at this point.

In addition, the new cameras will likely affect insurance rates as well as the field of personal injury law. Issues ranging from the degree of negligence of a driver to the appropriate level of compensation for auto accident injuries, pain, and suffering will likely be addressed differently. Video footage from rear-view cameras will likely appear as evidence in an increasing number of trials.


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