Consumer advocates filed suit against the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Wednesday, claiming that the agency has consistently delayed a rule requiring backup cameras in all new cars sold in the United States. The rule, if implemented, could save hundreds of children’s lives each year.
According to CNN, the DOT reports that more than 200 people are killed each year in backover accidents and about 17,000 people are injured. Children under the age of 5 account for 44 percent of backover crash fatalities.
Safety groups see rear-view camera technology as a life-saving solution to a growing problem. People using their cars in reverse can’t see young children behind their cars because they are so short. Rear-view cameras on newer model vehicles allow drivers to see lower than side-view mirrors do, lessening the likelihood of children escaping drivers’ eyesight — no matter how small they are. Consequently, safety groups say the cameras should be mandatory on all cars in the U.S.
"When Congress ordered this rule issued in three years, they meant three years, not seven," said Scott Michelman, an attorney for Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy group.
The problem is, in 2008, a law was enacted that requires back-up cameras on new automobiles. That law had a 2011 deadline. Now, in 2013, DOT set a new goal to complete the standards by 2015. Consumer groups say that 2015 is not soon enough.
"Assuming DOT does not again delay the rule, the backover rule-making will have taken nearly seven years — more than twice as long as Congress envisioned for the rule-making — at a significant cost in human lives," according to the lawsuit.
But the DOT maintains that it is making every effort to prioritize the rear-view camera. The agency also insists that the time it is taking is necessary for the successful implementation of a rule that would prohibit the sale of cars without rear-view cameras in the U.S.
"While adding this technology to our list of safety features is important, I remain committed to implementing the rear visibility rule as well," U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement.
For more on backover accidents and how rear-view cameras work, visit KidsAndCars.org.