New Rules Address Backover Crashes

     WASHINGTON (CN) - New cars will have to be equipped with rear visibility technology to reduce backing accidents, according to a new regulation.
     The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration anticipates its regulation will significantly reduce the hundreds of fatalities and thousands of injuries caused annually by backover accidents, which disproportionately involve children, those with disabilities and older adults.
     Specifically, the new regulation requires new cars and other light vehicles weighing less than 10,000 pounds to have a 20 by 10 foot area behind the vehicle visible to the driver.
     Safety data indicate that backover incidents involving light vehicles cause, on a yearly average, 210 fatalities and 15,000 injuries, of which 6,000 are incapacitating, according to the action.
     The agency has found that vulnerable populations are unduly affected by such crashes. Children under 5 account for 31 percent of the fatalities, and adults 70 or older account for 26 percent. "Including vehicles that already have systems installed, 58 to 69 lives are expected to be saved each year once the entire on-road vehicle fleet is equipped with rear visibility systems," the agency noted in a press release.
     The agency expects up to 1,332 injuries will also be prevented yearly, according to the action.
     In addition to preventing fatalities and injuries, the regulation's requirements are expected to reduce property damage. Estimated rear visibility system installation costs as of 2010 range from $43 to $142 per vehicle.
     While some studies show monetized costs of system installation outweigh monetized benefits, there are significant benefits to this rule that cannot be monetarily quantified. In many cases, parents are responsible for the deaths of their own children. "As a father, I can only imagine how heart wrenching these types of accidents can be for families, but we hope that [this] rule will serve as a significant step toward reducing these tragic accidents," U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx was quoted as saying in the agency's press release.
     The Kids Transportation Safety Act requires that the NHTSA establish a system installation phase-in schedule to begin no later than May 1, 2016. Full compliance is required by May 1, 2018. Many manufacturers are already installing the rear visibility systems due to consumer demand, according to the agency's statement.
     The regulation is effective June 6. Petitions for reconsideration must be received no later than May 22.