Most of the vehicle safety features made mandatory by lawmakers, such as seat-belts and airbags, provide protection to those inside the vehicle. But in a move to protect those outside the vehicle, specifically, in the blind spot behind the vehicle, the US Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued a proposed rule requiring rear view cameras to be installed in all new vehicles under 10,000 lb (4,536 kg) in the US from May, 2018.
According to the NHTSA, every year in the US there are an average of 210 fatalities and 15,000 injuries caused by a vehicle backing over someone. Children under five account for 31 percent of fatalities, with adults over 70 accounting for 26 percent. The efficacy of rear view cameras in reducing the risk of such accidents has long been recognized, and many auto manufacturers have already made such technology standard equipment on many models.
With the new rule to apply to all new vehicles weighing under 10,000 lb (4,536 kg), it will cover passenger cars, SUVs, buses and light trucks. It also sets a minimum field of view for rear view cameras, which must include a 10-ft (3 m) by 20-ft (6 m) zone directly behind the vehicle. However, instead of setting the minimum size for the in-vehicle display or dictating its placement, the NHTSA is adopting a minimum image size requirement – in other words, how large displayed objects appear to the driver.
The NHTSA expects the new rule, which will be final in 60 days of the March 31st announcement, will save 58 to 69 lives each year once the entire on-road vehicle fleet is equipped with systems that meet the specifications outlined.