It’s a move that we here at E3 Spark Plugs can definitely support. After three years of delays and one passionately fought lawsuit, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has officially ruled that as of 2018, all new vehicles rolling off automobile manufacturing assembly lines will come standard with a backup camera. It’s not about high-tech gadgetry bragging rights. It’s about saving lives.
About six years ago, after multiple incidents of small children being killed by vehicles backing over them, Congress mandated auto safety regulators to pass a federal standard by 2011 to help end such tragedies. Proponents pointed to statistics showing that upwards of 210 fatalities and 15,000 injuries are caused by back-over accidents. Of the victims, 31 percent are children under the age of five and 26 percent are elderly adults.
The NHTSA says it got right to work on the issue. But when months, then years passed with no discernable progress, parents and safety officials began to lose patience. Finally, one group filed a federal lawsuit.
“This rule should have been in place three years ago at the latest,” said plaintiff Dr. Greg Gulbransen, who accidentally backed over and killed his own two-year-old son in 2002.
“NHTSA took time on this regulation to ensure that the policy was right and make the rule flexible and achievable,” the agency countered in a written statement.
In a nick-of-time move, the NHTSA made the announcement just one day before a federal appeals court was scheduled to hear arguments in a lawsuit filed in September by Gulbransen; Susan Auriemma, who injured her 3-year-old daughter in a backup accident in 2005; and a group of safety organizations including Kids and Cars Inc., Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety and Consumers Union.
“It’s been a long fight,” Gulbransen told reporters. “But we’re thrilled this day has finally come. This rule will save lives.”
Meanwhile, several auto manufactures already have voluntarily begun to include rearview cameras as standard equipment in new cars. Over half (53 percent) of 2013 model cars have them, and Honda recently announced it will include backup cameras as standard equipment across its entire lineup beginning with its 2015 Honda Fit models.
We here at E3 Spark plugs congratulate and thank all of those who worked diligently to make America’s rides safer.