Reversing Cameras Soon To Be Mandatory In The US: NHTSA Photo:

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Trevor Collett | Apr, 02 2014 | 2 Comments

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the US has proposed a rule making reversing cameras mandatory in all light vehicles.

Under a weight-based scheme similar to Australia’s, all vehicles under 10,000 pounds (4.5 tonnes) would require a reversing camera, including trucks and small busses. Carmakers would have until May 1, 2018 to comply.

The proposed changes would require reversing cameras to offer an expanded field of view behind the vehicle (as most already do), within a three- by six-metre zone.

The NHTSA estimates 210 fatalities and 15,000 injuries per year in the US are caused by reversing vehicles, of which 31 percent involve children aged under five years.

Queensland’s Centre For Accident Research And Road Safety (CARRS-Q) says one child is run-over in their driveway each week in Australia, with four deaths and 81 injuries occurring annually to children aged under five years in Queensland alone.

The NHTSA estimates the cost of mandatory reversing cameras at around $137 per vehicle, which drops for vehicles already containing display screens.

Speaking with TMR, Nicholas Clarke from the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) said the time frame for the proposed laws in the US was interesting, in that future technology could overtake reversing cameras as a more effective method for road safety.

“Reversing cameras are a good reversing aid, there’s no question about that,” Mr Clarke said.

“Whether or not they are the best technology available remains to be seen. Systems like autonomous emergency rear braking could be more effective.”

“While reversing cameras are good, there is still a responsibility for people to check their mirrors and surroundings when reversing.”

Mr Clarke said while reversing cameras earned points for carmakers in determining the overall safety rating of a particular model, ANCAP has no plans to add reversing cameras to the list of prerequisites for the maximum 5-star safety rating at this stage.

It seems carmakers in the US are looking one step further, however, with the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (AAM) filing a petition with the NHTSA this week to see side mirrors replaced by cameras in future models.

The AAM says replacing side mirrors with small digital images inside the cabin would reduce drag and wind noise in future models, while making the vehicle narrower and eliminating low-cost claims and repairs caused by damaged mirrors.

The NHTSA’s proposed rule changes are expected to be finalised within the next two months.

The Tesla Model X, which features cameras instead of side mirrors
The Tesla Model X, which features cameras instead of side mirrors

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