In 2007, Congress and President George W. Bush approved a law mandating that the government set automotive rear-visibility guidelines by the beginning of 2011. In 2010, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proposed that backup cameras be standard equipment by model-year 2014. Fast-forward to 2013 and there's still no rear-visibility regulation. Two lawmakers are trying to find out why.
The Detroit News is reporting that U.S. Reps. Peter King (R-N.Y.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) are holding a press conference Thursday to jump-start the stalled rear-visibility initiative. According to the lawmakers, the mandate has been delayed four times since 2011 — most recently in December 2012 by then-Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood; he stepped down in January.
The representatives plan to urge NHTSA to move forward on its backup camera legislation. They will be joined by several parents of children killed in backup-related accidents. According to NHTSA, about 100 children younger than 5 die in backup crashes each year.
If passed, the mandate would be phased in. Under NHTSA's original timeline, 10% of an automaker's new vehicle lineup would need to be backup-camera equipped by September 2012, with 40% by the following September and 100% by September 2014.
That ship has obviously sailed, but that hasn't stopped some automakers from making a camera standard throughout their lineups. Honda for example, offers a standard backup camera on almost all of its vehicles; Hyundai and Kia offer one on many of their vehicles, too.
A 2012 Harris poll suggests that the public agress with the mandate despite the technology's costs. NHTSA says adding a backup camera to a car without an existing display screen will cost around $159 to $203 per vehicle, shrinking to between $58 and $88 for vehicles that already use display screens. The Harris poll found that consumers care more about safety features like backup cameras than they do about multimedia systems.