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Preventing Tragic Backover Accidents: Should Cars Be Required to Have Back-up Cameras?

Backover accidents cause an average 229 deaths and 18,000 injuries per year, according to NHTSA.

When you put your vehicle in reverse in your garage, driveway or parking lot, do you know what – or who – is behind you?  If you drive a large SUV or truck, you probably are aware your mirrors do not paint a full picture of what is behind you, specifically on the ground.  Accidents commonly occur when a vehicle backs up and the driver is unaware of people – often small children – in the path of their vehicle. These types of accidents are tragic, heartbreaking, and most importantly, frequently preventable, with the use of an installed backup camera. 

Backup cameras are often perceived as a luxury accessory provided to make parking easier, and are typically included as part of a navigation feature package.  But the more important benefit is the visibility the devices provide, allowing drivers to see what is behind them in those scary blind zones. Rear-view visibility is so important that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is proposing to require rearview backup cameras on all new cars, SUVs, and pickup trucks by 2014.  The agency estimates that the additional equipment will cost between $88 to $203 per car, but believes the extra cost is well worth it, considering the lives the measure will save. According to the NHTSA, requiring backup cameras in new vehicles could save 95-112 lives per year, and prevent 7,000 to 8,000 more injuries. 

Last December, The U.S. Department of Transportation proposed an important federal regulation to help eliminate blind spots behind cars that can hide the presence of pedestrians, especially young children and elderly adults. The proposed rule was required by Congress as part of the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act of 2007. The Act is named for two-year old Cameron Gulbransen, who tragically died when his father accidentally backed over him in the family’s driveway.

The NHTSA estimates that on average, 292 fatalities and 18,000 injuries occur each year as a result of back-over crashes involving all vehicles. Approximately 44 percent of fatalities are children under five–an unusually high percentage for any particular type of crash. In addition, 33 percent of fatalities are elderly people 70 years of age or older.

The loss of a child is heartbreaking and devastating.  If you are a parent, or visiting the home of a family with small children, always know where the children are when putting your car in reverse. Remind others of the safety benefits of rear-view displays. If your car did not come with a factory installed backup camera you can still install one in your vehicle. Visit your local car electronics store or check out dozens of video backup camera options on Amazon.com.

For more information and resources, see the DOT press release U.S. DOT proposes rear view visibility rule to protect kids and the elderly, CNN Money’s report, “Autos may be required to have back-up cameras” and a story about one woman’s heartbreaking loss in MSNBC’s report, “Lives shattered in driveway backover accidents”.

As a Carlsbad accident attorney, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the importance of backup cameras and what else can be done to prevent these terrible accidents. Do you support the DOT’s proposed regulation?  Please share your comments and thoughts below. 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Charles December 31, 2011 at 05:36 AM
I have an idea how about better training for people. since most admit that they didn’t know SUV’s have the blind spots.
Theresa Mills May 31, 2013 at 07:15 PM
I work for AmeriCam automotive cameras and we are launching a Summer Safety Campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of backover (and frontover) accidents. We are working with KidsAndCars.org to bring this issue to light. Too many lives have been lost already.

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