Have you ever started backing out of your driveway or a parking spot in Maryland, only to slam on your brakes when a child or adult suddenly appears behind your car? Pedestrian accidents can happen in the blink of an eye. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates some 210 backover deaths occur in the US every year. In response to this safety hazard, NHTSA has proposed a rule requiring auto manufacturers to install rear backup cameras in most new vehicles by May 2018.
Blind spots hamper drivers' ability to see everything that's in back of their vehicle. Even with side mirrors, it's difficult to get a clear view of what's behind the car, truck, SUV or minivan. Some of the saddest news stories we've heard about as Maryland pedestrian accident lawyers involve parents or neighbors backing up over children -- children who are playing in the driveway or who suddenly dash behind the vehicle. NHTSA estimates about one-third of backover deaths are children, with many caused by parents.
Other at-risk groups: Pedestrians listening to music or preoccupied with texting may not notice a vehicle that is about to back up in their path. (See link to our related story on "Distracted Walking" below.) Busy parking lots can be risky places for back-up pedestrian accidents, with so many cars and shoppers moving about in tight spaces. The elderly are also at higher risk for being in serious or deadly pedestrian accidents.
The new rule has been a long time coming. CNN reports that a 2008 law required NHTSA to create rules to prevent backup accidents. It's taken until now for the rule to be proposed—something public and traffic safety advocates are applauding. The proposed rule would require all new cars, sport utility vehicles and minivans, as well as some new small trucks and buses, to carry rear visibility technology by May 2018. Many luxury model automobiles already come with backup cameras installed.
NHTSA estimates between 59 and 69 deaths a year could be prevented by drivers using backup cameras. The rear-facing cameras will cost about $140 per vehicle to install. Opponents object to government regulations of this nature, though laws governing seat belt use have proven to save lives. Until rear-view cameras are required in all vehicles -- it's best to back up slowly and turn around and LOOK to make sure you know what's behind you.
Related Maryland Accident Injury Attorney Article:
Distracted Pedestrian Accidents on the Rise Due to Texting While Walking (Aug. 2013)
U.S. requires new cars to have backup cameras
CNN Money March 31, 2014
NHTSA to require backup camera on all vehicles
USA Today March 31, 2014