There is a trickle-down effect that happens in the automotive industry. New technology tends to be featured first in high-end luxury vehicles as an optional addition. The technology that proves especially useful eventually becomes a standard feature on luxury vehicles and ultimately becomes standard among all cars.
Although it’s not intended for this reason, the trickle-down effect helps weed out the technology that is superfluous. This process makes sure the best technology becomes accessible to the general public. The latest gadget to prove itself worthy is the back-up camera. So worthy, in fact, that the NHTSA has ruled back-up cameras mandatory for all new cars starting May 2018.
The rule was hit by numerous delays but just a couple weeks ago it was finally passed. Safety advocates hailed the finalization as they believe the law will reduce the number of pedestrian deaths. Annually there are approximately 14,000 injuries and 200 deaths associated with cars backing up in the United States. What’s more disturbing is that almost half of the victims are children under the age of five.
The president and founder of KidsAndCars.org, Janette Fennell, spoke about the new rule saying, “This has been such a fight but we’re ecstatic to hear the news.” US Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx added to the sentiment saying, “As a father, I can only imagine how heart-wrenching these type of accidents can be for families. We hope that today’s rule will serve as a significant step toward reducing these tragic accidents.”
The rule guidelines are as follows. All vehicles that weigh less than 10,000 pounds including trucks and buses must come equipped with a back-up camera. Each camera must show a field of view that encompasses a 10-foot by 20-foot zone behind the vehicle.
While pedestrian and child safety are of paramount concern for all, there are critics of the legislation who have voiced their concern over the price tag. Analysis shows that enacting the law will cost between $700 million and 1.6 billion and that cost will passed along to car shoppers.
Time will tell if the back-up camera actually helps decrease the number of tragic accidents annually and if the cost for such safety is greeted warmly by the middle-class car buyer who will most likely be footing the bill. The NHTSA analysis projects the back-up camera and this specific legislation to cost between $11.8 and $19.7 million per life saved.