Sunday, April 6, 2014


After the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced a rule that will eventually require all cars to have standard backup cameras, a group of automakers filed a petition asking NHTSA to revise the requirement that all cars have sideview mirrors , NHTSA confirmed it will require all new light-duty vehicles built after May 2018 to have a backup camera.

The ruling comes after NHTSA mulled requiring backup cameras for several years, and after a recent study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety confirmed such cameras drastically improve driver vision. In its ruling, NHTSA says it expects the addition of backup cameras to save 58 to 69 lives per year; currently, the agency says 210 people are killed each year and 15,000 are injured during "backover" accidents.

"Rear visibility requirements will save lives, and will save many families from the heartache suffered after these tragic incidents occur," NHTSA acting administrator David Friedman said in a statement.
NHTSA's rule doesn't specifically require automakers to add cameras, but does specify a specific area behind the vehicle that must be visible to the driver. NHTSA, "anticipates that, in the near term, vehicle manufacturers will use rearview video systems and in-vehicle visual displays to meet the requirements of this final rule."

The requirement for backup cameras will be phased in over several years. Automakers are required to meet the visibility rule on 10 percent of their new vehicles built between May 1, 2017 and May 1, 2017; on 40 percent of vehicles built between May 1, 2017 and May 1, 2018; and on 100 percent of vehicles built after May 1, 2018. The rule does exclude "small volume" manufacturers, which could potentially give certain exotic automakers an out from adding cameras.

NHTSA estimates that adding backup cameras to cars without them will cost between $132 and $142 per vehicle, while adding the systems to cars that already have a display capable of showing a camera's output (such as a touchscreen) will only cost $43 to $45 per ca

Automotive News reports that Tesla Motors and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers wants NHTSA to allow automakers to use video cameras rather than physical mirrors on future models. Because the cameras would reportedly be smaller than glass mirrors, the Alliance believes the change could reduce aerodynamic drag and improve car fuel efficiency. Currently, federal vehicle standards require all cars to have exterior sideview mirrors.

"Cameras will open opportunities for additional design flexibility and innovation. This idea has been in development since the 1990s, when the U.S. Department of Energy partnered with automakers to produce an energy-efficient concept car with cameras instead of side-view mirrors," the Alliance said in a statement.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers counts among its members BMW, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Jaguar Land Rover, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz USA, Mitsubishi, Porsche Cars North America, Toyota, Volkswagen Group of America, and Volvo. Automotive News reports that Tesla, although not a member of the Alliance, has also signed on to the petition.

Many automakers have shown concept cars that use small cameras instead of physical mirrors, including the super-efficient Volkswagen XL1 (pictured). In the XL1, the view behind the car is shown on color screens integrated into the door panels. The original Tesla Model X Prototype similarly eschewed mirrors in favor of drag-reducing cameras. The 2014 Honda Accord offers a similar feature called LaneWatch, which shows a view of the car's blindspot in the infotainment display.

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