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Backup cameras move forward

By Jay MacDonald ·
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Posted: 10 am ET

Full implementation of health care reform isn't the only 2014 deadline on the horizon. That's also the year the federal government wants automakers to install backup cameras as standard equipment on all new vehicles, a move strongly backed by the auto insurance industry.

Today, only about 20 percent of new vehicles sport the backup camera safety system, which features a dash-mounted video display that enables motorists to see what's behind them. The system activates an audio warning if it detects an object -- say a child playing or that tethered dog from National Lampoon's "Vacation" -- within the field of view of the camera.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 292 fatalities and 18,000 injuries occur each year as the result of back-over accidents. Children account for 44 percent of the fatalities; the elderly 33 percent.

"There is no more tragic accident than for a parent or caregiver to back out of a garage or driveway and kill or injure an undetected child playing behind the vehicle," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in announcing the plan.

Auto insurance companies are squarely onboard with 20/20 hindsight. In addition to lowering the risk of medical and liability claims, the cameras are expected to reduce the number of parking-lot bumper thumpers and collisions with stationary objects such as light poles and cart corrals.

"With available technology, there is no reason to accept a blind spot of any size," says Russ Rader of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a nonprofit research group funded by the auto insurance industry.

What do you think? Should all vehicles be required to have backup cameras? Would you use such a device? And what do you think the measure will do to vehicle prices and auto insurance rates?

I would welcome your thoughts, as would the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which has given the public until early February to comment on the federal proposal.

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Mike in NY
January 13, 2011 at 1:17 pm

So, let me get this straight, 298 fatalities divided by 250,000,000 vehicles gives a percentage rate of 0.0001192. Therefore, we MUST mandate back-up cameras on all vehicles. So, assuming the very low cost of $100.00 per vehicle and replacing 250,000,000 vehicles over the years, were going to suck $25,000,000,000 out of the economy and send it overseas where they make electronics, just to make sure idiots who don't check behind their cars can't do their children any harm. Got it.

The heart seems to be in the right place, but the economics certainly aren't.

Jay MacDonald
January 12, 2011 at 2:43 pm

Ron: Thank you for pointing out this unchecked deadly hazard that sadly remains marginalized by current highway safety regulations. So many roadside tragedies could be prevented by simply adopting uniform standards on lighting, brakes and inspections of trailers. Your statistics were an eye-opener for me and something I plan to look into in future blogs.

Ron Melancon
January 12, 2011 at 4:17 am

Over the past week our Government announced a groundbreaking new lifesaving measure which will help save lives. This initiative involved the hart work and dedication of Kids and and the Gulbransen Family.

We note that this action is in the direct response of the data collected by the above mentioned organizations where we note these facts:

We have 250 Million Vehicles in the United States and 298 lives were lost and 18,000 injured....By Back Over Accidents and a goal was completed and by the year 2014 every new vehicle will include a mandated rear view camera.

In addition the CPSC announced that they will outlaw drop-side baby cribs due to 30 deaths over the past 10 years yet the CPSC does not outlaw 'Homemade Trailers, Homemade Hitches and the common practice of companies producing hitches with no set standard.

Our organization has been collecting data on "Passenger Cars That Tow Trailers" for over 8 years and have been seen by an official at NHSTA and have made our concerns known with these facts.

We have almost 40 million Utility, Boat, Horse and Homemade trailers registered in the United States that caused 379 lives to be lost and over 20,810 Injuries just in 2009. Since 1975 over 15,525 lives have been lost and Since 1988 over 495,853 Injured by this class of vehicles.

With all things being equal and we had the same number of Vehicles as Trailers then our loss of life would be 2,400 verses 298 and Injuries 120,000 verses 18,000. We simply ask why no action has taken place with "Passenger Cars That Tow Trailers"

WE QUOTE TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY Ray LaHood "There is no more tragic accident than for a parent or caregiver to back out of a garage or driveway and kill or injure an undetected child playing behind the vehicle," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "The changes we are proposing today will help drivers see into those blind zones directly behind vehicles to make sure it is safe to back up.

To which we reply "There is no more tragic accident when parents, children, grandparents and animals loose their lives when a Utility Trailer Comes Flying Off A Hitch and a loss of life occurs and our Secretary Of Transportation completely ignores theses Random Victims Of Negligence" To make matters worse Virginia Delegate Pollard has received money and support from Carry On trailers to enact legislation to jeopardize public safety. We even have evidence that Virginia Farm Bureau Insurance along with the Motorcycle Clubs have lobbied to defeat House Bill 145 and offer no solutions after we indicated we would be willing to work it out.

Just this month alone we note that a Father Lost His life in Washington by a "Loose Boat Trailer" Florentino Tabafunda of Bainbridge Island and this week Maria Quinones-Medrano, a 47 year old female lost her life this past week in California by a failure of "Every Safety System" when a power company's trailer snapped its chains. Please know that in your area Lisa Langemann also suffered a life ending event when a trailer simply came off. Again all three by Loose Trailers.

In closing we simply ask who is preventing and we quote an insurance agent " I saw the pix and read your story and It really amazes me why there has not been any traction on this subject. We ask the same question to Ray LaHood.