Rearview Camera Delay Steers U.S. Into Court Challenge

  • Share
  • Read Later
Getty Images

Consumer groups filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) on Wednesday for delaying a rule that would require new cars sold in the U.S. to have back-up cameras.

But the DOT has missed their deadline by more than two years. And now it says it needs until 2015 to gather more information on the best possible measures. For a coalition of consumer groups, though, it’s been long enough, and they’re filing suit.

The back-up camera proposal stemmed from a February 2008 bill signed into law by President George W. Bush that was meant to increase driver’s back-end vision. It gave the DOT a deadline of 2011 to create a rule to require rearview cameras for cars to prevent accidents. Statistics show that about 100 people die each year from back-up accidents, and a majority of them are children. Having the rule in place would prevent 7,000 injuries and would cost somewhere in the range of $58 to $203 for every vehicle.

(MORE: Do You Know How to Keep Your Kid Safe in the Car?)

“It’s one of those rules that is so obvious it just should be done, but it hasn’t been.” Joan Claybrook, a former administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and president emeritus of Public Citizen, a consumer group told the Washington Post. In addition to the Public Citizen, consumer groups Consumers Union, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, and Kids and Cars are also filing the lawsuit requesting the government be forced to make the requirement.

The DOT has recommended rearview cameras that provide visibility for a 20-foot by 10-foot area right behind the car that starts two seconds after the car is put into reverse. But consumer groups say a recommendation is not enough, and not what they were promised.

“As we’ve seen with other features in the past, adding rearview video systems to our list of recommended safety features will encourage both automakers and consumers to consider more vehicles that offer this important technology,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony R. Foxx, the Transportation said in a statement. “While adding this technology to our list of safety features is important, I remain committed to implementing the rear visibility rule as well.”

Automakers are not in favor of having such a rule, arguing buyers should have the choice of what safety options they put in their vehicles.