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DOT Faces Suit Over Delayed Backup Camera Rule

There was continuing coverage of NHTSA’s decision to put backup cameras on its list of recommended safety features and of a lawsuit seeking to force NHTSA to act more quickly on a rule to require the installation of backup cameras on new vehicles. ABC devoted nearly two minutes of its evening news broadcast to the subject while USA Today, the Detroit News, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, and many other print and online sources covered the story. Coverage of NHTSA was negative with many reporting on criticism of NHTSA’s delay by consumer advocates and the parents of children who have died or been injured in backup accidents.

ABC World News reported that Susan Aureimma, a plaintiff whose daughter was injured in a backup accident, said the recommendation is “too little too late. The sooner we can issue this regulation, the sooner we can stop it from happening.” ABC notes that 210 American are killed each year in backup accidents, half of them children, and that 15,00 are injured. ABC News also reports online.

USA Today reports that Congress passed a law in 2007 that ordered DOT to have a rule in place by 2011 “to require cameras or other backup warning devices on all new cars and light trucks,” however, “there have been multiple delays and no regulation is in place.” The suit seeks to force DOT to act, and is lead by two parents who accidentally backed over their own children and consumer groups like Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety and Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy of Consumer Reports. NHTSA has said that backup cameras would add $53 to $88 to the price of cars with dash display screens and $159 to $203 for vehicles without them. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) also weighed in on Wednesday, calling the delays “outrageous and unacceptable.” Meanwhile, automakers are moving ahead with back up cameras and 53% of 2013 model cars have a standard backup camera.

NBC’s Today Show reports on its website that in a statement DOT said more research is needed “to ensure the most protective and efficient rule possible.” In addition, “DOT acknowledged that rear-view cameras may help save lives and said it is encouraging automakers to install them.” However, NBC points that this is not good enough for victim’s families and safety groups. CNBC has an additional video report.

The Hill reports in its “RegWatch” blog that Sen. Jay Rockefeller said in a statement, “When the experts tell me that installing rear cameras in cars could save the lives of hundreds of young children and prevent thousands of heartbreaking injuries, I want action.”

The Detroit News notes that the Gloria Bergquist, vice president for communications and public affairs at the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, said that the installation of backup cameras is a decision for consumers, not regulators. However, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx is said, “While adding this technology to our list of safety features is important, I remain committed to implementing the rear visibility rule as well.” The News points out that a 2010 NHTSA analysis found that the proposed rule doesn’t save any money but that “it is still worth the costs.” Meanwhile, because automakers get at least 18 months before new requirements can take effect, rear camera rules aren’t likely to be required before the 2017 model year.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published an op-ed from Greg Gulbransen, a plaintiff in the suit, that appeared previously in the Washington Post.

Consumer Reports also has a report on the lawsuit which was joined by its Consumers Union policy and advocacy arm.

Also reporting are Time, CNN, PC Magazine, the Consumerist, the Detroit Bureau, Occupational Health & Safety, and KMBC-TV Kansas City, MO.

From the American Association for Justice news release.

Bob Kraft

I am a Dallas, Texas lawyer who has had the privilege of helping thousands of clients since 1971 in the areas of Personal Injury law and Social Security Disability.

About This Blog

The title of this blog reflects my attitude toward those government agencies and insurance companies that routinely mistreat injured or disabled people. As a Dallas, Texas lawyer, I've spent more than 45 years trying to help those poor folk, and I have been frustrated daily by the actions of the people on the other side of their claims. (Sorry if I offended you...)

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