The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee unanimously approved a bill (S 694) designed to protect children from injuries or deaths in non-traffic vehicle incidents. The measure directs the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to require new vehicles be equipped with a means of alerting the driver if a child is behind the vehicle when it is being backed-up. The specialty-equipment aftermarket has been at the forefront of offering cameras and sensors to address the issue. The legislation now moves to the Senate floor for consideration. A similar bill (HR 1216) has been introduced in the House of Representatives.
It is estimated that at least 1,100 children have died in back-over incidents since 2000. Some vehicles, such as SUVs, are particularly vulnerable to blind spots. Under the legislation, the NHTSA would be directed to expand the scope of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 111 (Rearview Mirrors) to establish performance requirements that would effectively mandate installation of cameras or sensors on new cars. The bill would also direct the NHTSA to consider requiring power windows and panels to automatically reverse direction if there is an obstruction in the path, such as a child’s head or arm.
If the agency decides this is impractical or unnecessary, the NHTSA would be required to explain how it came to that conclusion. Additionally, starting in model year 2011, all cars with an automatic transmission would have to have a brake-shift interlock to help prevent vehicle roll-away. The driver is then required to apply the brake in order shift the vehicle out of park. For more information, contact Stuart Gosswein at firstname.lastname@example.org.