Rear-visibility technology to be required on all vehicles

The U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration today announced a final rule that will require all new vehicles under 10,000 pounds, including trucks and buses, to be equipped with rear-visibility technology by May 2018.

The new rule would require manufacturers to install rear-view cameras in order to expand the field of view of drivers, thereby reducing the risk of injury or death from backover accidents. Children and the elderly are often the victims of backover crashes. The NHTSA estimates that 210 deaths and 15,000 injuries occur each year as a result of backover collisions. Children under the age of five account for 31-percent of those fatalities, and adults over the age of 70 account for 26-percent.

"Everyday kids are injured and all too often kids are killed," Senator Chuck Schumer told reporters last fall.

The requirement was initially set to take effect in 2011, but has been delayed multiple times.

The new requirement, however, will come at the cost of the consumer. Many car manufacturers make rear-view cameras available in their higher-end fleets at an additional cost ranging from $500 to $4,000. Some consumers worry that new safety requirements, like the tire pressure monitoring system ruling in 2002, will only drive up the cost of vehicles, making an affordable car less attainable.

"Someone my age is going to have trouble coming up with cash as it is," said Dan DiCesare, a young professional in Syracuse. "Making something like [rear-view technology] a requirement is just going to make that harder."

"I think it's a good rule," said Kevin Gagen. "It's a nice feature, but my only concern is how much it will cost, especially for first-time buyers. I have kids who are graduating from college and will need a new car soon so it's going to increase the value of the car."

Still others point out that the safety benefits outweigh the costs.

"I almost saw an accident just a few minutes ago as a car was backing up in this parking lot," said Celine Beers as she loaded groceries into her car at Wegmans. "They were standing very close to the car as it was backing up. Of course it stopped, it was inching its way out, but adults are tall and children are much shorter. It's possible that that car could have hit somebody."

The new requirement states that cameras must offer a view of the 10-foot by 20-foot zone directly behind the vehicle. The NHTSA estimates that once all vehicles are equipped with rear-view technology, 58 to 69 lives will be saved annually.