LEAWOOD, Kan. — When most people back up their cars, they check their mirrors, but there is still only so much that a person can see. But that might be about to change. The Department of Transportation proposed requirements Friday that would require rear-mounted video cameras and in-vehicle displays on most new vehicles by the 2014 model year. The government estimated that video systems would add about $200 to the cost of each new vehicle.
Janette Fennell, the founder of Kidsandcars.org a child auto safety group based in Leawood, said every week about 50 kids are backed over in the United States.
“The people who love and cherish these children are very suddenly responsible for their deaths,” said Fennell. “It’s breaking up families. You don’t understand what you don’t see until you hit something, and then it’s too late. We think it’s high time something is done about this. Congress in 2008 set in motion the safety upgrades in response to dozens of accidents in which children were backed over. At issue in particular were blind zones in large sport utility vehicles and pickups. “There is no more tragic accident than for a parent or caregiver to back out of a garage or driveway and kill or injure an undetected child playing behind the vehicle,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said. He said the changes would “help drivers see into those blind zones directly behind vehicles to make sure it is safe to back up.” Nearly 300 people are killed and 18,000 injured each year because of back-overs, according to data kept by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Many happen in driveways and parking lots. Nearly half the deaths involve children under age 5, and the crashes also affect the elderly.
Barry Bowman, at the Dave Cross Motors in Lee’s Summit, said he sees a lot of cameras already installed on GMCs.
According to Consumer Reports, a driver’s blind spot in a mid-sized vehicle ranges from 8 feet to 35 feet. In minivans the blind spots range from 13 feet to 28 feet. And in SUVs the range is from 17 feet to 38 feet. Safety groups said any car can have a backup camera installed.