Federal Agency Recommends Back-Up Cameras for New Cars

By SEMA Washington, D.C., Staff

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has included a recommendation in its New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) that encourages manufacturers to equip new vehicles with a rearview video system. NCAP includes a five-star rating system for raising consumer awareness about crashworthiness and rollover safety information. The NCAP update is separate from NHTSA’s proposed rule to update Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 111 (Rear View Mirrors) to require all new passenger cars be equipped with a rearview camera system. The equipment is intended to prevent accidents by alerting drivers when pedestrians are behind the vehicles.

Under a law passed in 2008, the NHTSA had until 2011 to issue the rule to be phased-in by 2014. While the law permitted sensors, mirrors or other devices to provide drivers with rearward information, the NHTSA determined that a camera and dashboard display screen system was the best solution. The automakers have generally objected to not being provided more flexibility in determining cost-effective ways to achieve the goal. A lawsuit has been filed in federal court to require the NHTSA to issue a final rule and make the cameras mandatory. As of 2012, about 44% of new cars included rear cameras as standard equipment and another 27% offered the equipment as an option. 

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