Like seat warmers, keyless entry, and a rockin’ sound system, backup cameras were once limited to luxury vehicles. Though many luxury features are more common now, only one—the camera—is about to become standard. Starting in May of 2018, you won’t be able to buy a new car without a rear video feed appearing on your console whenever you shift to reverse.
In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) predicts that by 2054 every car on the road will have a backup camera.
New Rule of the Road
On March 31, 2014, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced a new rule requiring “rear visibility technology” to come in all new vehicles weighing under 10,000 pounds by May 2018. Implementation has already begun. By May 1, 2016, automakers had to have rear visibility technology in 10 percent of vehicles. That switches to 40 percent of cars on May 1, 2017, and then a full 100 percent by May 1, 2018.
While “rear visibility technology” is a somewhat ambiguous phrase, the requirements for that technology have been made pretty clear. The required field of view is a 10-foot by 20-foot zone directly behind the vehicle. A backup camera system is the easiest and cheapest way for automakers to comply with this rule. Parking sensors, while helpful in preventing crashes, do not provide the required field of view.
A Win for Safety
The 2014 ruling by the NHTSA exists thanks to the hard work of many child safety advocates. One of those advocates was Dr. Greg Gulbransen, whose young son, Cameron, lost his life in an auto accident caused by a reversing car.
Cameron’s story is unfortunately common. On average, backover crashes result in 210 fatalities and 15,000 injuries every year. Children under five account for 31 percent of these fatalities. Installing a backup camera that removes the dangerous blind zone behind every vehicle is estimated to save 95 to 112 lives per year.
In 2007, the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act was signed into law. The act required the Department of Transportation (DOT) to research auto safety issues, including blind zones, and to establish a database to store information on non-traffic related fatalities and injuries.
The decision to enforce mandatory rear visibility technology was finally made in 2014, thanks to continued pressure on lawmakers from child safety advocates.
Who Foots the Bill?
Implementing the new technology will come at a price, which is likely to be passed on to consumers. For vehicles already equipped with a suitable visual display, automakers will have to spend approximately $45 to add on a backup camera. For vehicles without a visual display, the cost increases to around $140.
Used car buyers don’t need to fret: the new regulations do not apply to older vehicles. However, adding an aftermarket backup camera to your vehicle, like the make-specific cameras sold at Camera Source, can help prevent accidents and ensure peace of mind.
Chris Triplett is the President and founder of Camera Source, an online retailer of quality home security, automotive, and commercial camera systems. Camera Source not only innovates new products that adapt to an ever changing OEM market, but they are a top re-seller of many high quality automotive accessory brands.