Regulation

For Fewer Crushed Children, Feds Mandate Rear-View Cameras For All Cars by 2014

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has mandated that all vehicles come equipped with a rear-view camera by 2014, The New York Times and Bloomberg Businessweek report. The impetus for this mandate came from KidsAndCars.org, "a nonprofit group that pushed the government to begin tracking" backover accidents, which occur when a driver doesn't see a pedestrian in his or her blind spot while backing up.

According to the Fact Sheet for Backovers on KidsAndCars.org, 70% of backover accidents involving small children occur when a parent or other relative is driving the car.

Other statistics for backover accidents are much less heartrending, calling into question the need for government intervention. According to The New York Times article:

[R]egulators say that 95 to 112 deaths and as many as 8,374 injuries could be avoided each year by eliminating the wide blind spot behind a vehicle. Government statistics indicate that 228 people of all ages — 44 percent of whom are under age 5 — die every year in backover accidents involving passenger vehicles. About 17,000 people a year are injured in such accidents.

With costs for the new regulation estimated at $2.7 billion a year or $200 per vehicle, that's $12 million per life saved if the regulation were 100 percent effective. Bloomberg Businessweek reports a more generous reduction in deaths, by 146 a year. But even then, the cost per life saved is still $18.5 million. That's almost five times the lifetime earnings of someone with a professional degree, nine times the amount someone would earn with a bachelor's degree and fifteen times the amount someone would earn with just a high school diploma, based on data from 1999.

The financial costs of this regulation would come in addition to the $1,300 per car from the Obama recent changes to the CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) law; not to mention every local police department's favorite revenue generators, brake light and seat belt laws.

Obviously people should be careful while driving, but all of these regulations add to the cost of production and ultimately make American-built cars less competitive. Besides that, Bloomberg reports that "back-up cameras are already a standard feature on 45 percent of 2012 passenger-car models, according to data compiled by Edmunds.com, an auto-market research company," showing that voluntary enterprise was moving in this direction prior to the mandate. Furthermore, it's an inefficient solution:

The length of a rearview blind spot depends on the car's make and the driver's height. On coupes and sedans, which sit low to the ground, the blind spot can be as little as four feet. On taller SUVs, it can be 20 feet or more. By requiring cameras on all cars, NHTSA imposed an expensive, "one-size-fits-all solution" to the problem, Bergquist contends.

This reveals a certain laziness in the decision-making. Legislators put minimum effort into finding the most cost-efficient solution to this problem and failed to consider that car design isn't really their job in the first place. Clearly, when considering the fact that most backover accidents involve the parent or relative of a child, the right course of action would be legislation that prohibits parents and relatives of children from driving in the first place.

Read about more silly, commerce-killing regulations, thinking of the children, and how to back it up the right way.

NEXT: Ronald Bailey on Churches Seeking Government Handouts

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  1. As long as the video screen can be hacked to play porn while I’m driving, I’m OK with this.

    1. So the same nannies who want to outlaw the distraction of a cell phone in cars, are mandating a TV?

      1. I do not like having a fucking video screen on my dashboard anyway. I bought a car, not a television. I want it to go very fast and handle well. I also want the dash to look clean and well designed, not have 20sqin of flat glass in the middle of it to collect fingerprints and dust.

        1. But it has never been about what you want.

        2. Now we can add the multi-billion-dollar rear camera industry to the airbag industry.

      2. This TV is owned by the government, so it’s different. While you’re driving, it can be used to provide lifesaving safety tips like “Don’t speed, Citizen!” and “You have exceeded your alloted mileage quota, Citizen. The vehicle will come to a full stop.”. Plus, the 2014 mandated GM/NHTSA OnStar system can help save children using location-based messages about the fat and sodium content of drive-thrus. Win win!

    2. You can at least record it, by producing a porno behind your car.

      WHOOOOOA! EXTREME CLOSEUP!

      1. Maybe cars should have multiple angle video recorders so cops will behave themselves during traffic stops.

        1. That seems to be the case in Russia, but to protect against corrupt cops. Every damn close call video is from there, it seems.

  2. This reveals a certain laziness in the decision-making. Legislators put minimum effort into finding the most cost-efficient solution to this problem and failed to consider that car design isn’t really their job in the first place.

    They had to pass the legislation to find out what was in it, Julie. It’s the new Washington way.

  3. This is crap law. I am sure people in Wisconson are going to break out the scraper and spend an extra few minutes clearing out the viewfinder for the camera.

    1. I have a backup camera on my Mustang and pickup truck. Very handy in the Mustang, as the convertible top – when it’s up – affords less rearward view than the hardtop. Very handy on the pickup for backing right up to the trailer hitch every time.

      “Maintenance”? I have to keep the salt off it in the winter or it’s just another distraction that shows me nothing.

      I actually love the cameras and get them on every vehicle I can.

      It’s like there was an “invisible hand” guiding my decisions in a sort of “market” where “buyers and sellers” could engage in “voluntary commerce”…..and then I wake up and the cops shoot my dog and steal my weed.

      1. While I can see the benefit to this to drivers with the most nominal critical thinking and driving skills (while simultaneously thinking that the audible system is superior), I can guarantee you that the soccer moms and idiot 20-somethings will have their eyes glued to this screen, oblivious to the cars and kids coming at them from the sides.

        Unintended what?

  4. Clearly, when considering the fact that most backover accidents involve the parent or relative of a child, the right course of action would be legislation that prohibits parents and relatives of children from driving from having children in the first place.

    No kids, no run-over kids. Fixed!

    1. Lol. Although there is one thing this statistic reveals, if there are no children playing near the car when you back up non will be run over. These cameras are not needed on commercial industrial and agricultural vehicles since children should be kept away from such equipment (even on farms put a fenced yard away from any machinery operation for children to play). For residential driving walk around the car before you get in the car, children under 5 shouldn’t be untended so if your alone and driving make sure the child is in the car, if there is someone at home to watch the child make sure you know where the child is, if they’re playing in the front yard make sure you can see them.

  5. Besides that, Bloomberg reports that “back-up cameras are already a standard feature on 45 percent of 2012 passenger-car models, …(900 chars)… showing that voluntary enterprise was moving in this direction prior to the mandate.

    Piffle. Our masters will take the credit for what the market is already providing, just the same.

    I’m looking at cars now and I can’t be bothered to waste the $2K+++ (since it’s usually part of the Zod-awful OEM nav systems) on such a pointless techno-wangdoodle. As I mentioned on another thread, the audible backup sensors are more than enough and allow you to keep your eyes where they belong: LOOKING ALL AROUND THE FUCKING CAR and not just on your Nintendo screen.

    This decision is so monumentally stupid that it has to have TheLaHood’s greasy fingerprints all over it. Look for impacts from oncoming traffic to skyrocket.

    1. Which will certainly be solved by mandating sideways facing cameras and a screen for each of those.

  6. Why not create some jobs by instead of installing cameras install gov’t workers to stand guard on all driveways.

    1. Or, have them ride in your trunk and make beeping noises when you back up?

      1. This would require an advanced degree. I’M also repeatedly told that these workers would make way more in the private sector hiding in your trunk making beeping noises.

        1. I’m sure there are millions of selfless potential government employees who just want to make a difference in the world who would be honored to serve in this capacity. The AFSCME lady told me so.

  7. These are so much cheaper than back-up cameras and so much more effective in preventing children from being run over in the driveway.

  8. The impetus for this mandate came from KidsAndCars.org, “a nonprofit group that pushed the government to begin tracking” backover accidents…

    So they’re just doing this because they want visual records of kids being backed over?

    1. Is that kiddie porn or crush film?

  9. But what if you record a cop with your rear-view camera?

    1. pretty sure if you put the car in reverse when pulled over, the cop will just shoot you.

      1. But what if the cop is your roommate and you record him kissing another cop?

        1. Then he can shoot your dog. Happens every day.

        2. Simple. You will spend 10 years at your local state penitentiary.

          1. Rowsdower, Dowsdower, bippity-boppity-Bowsdower!

            1. At least somebody understands me.

              I’m a raging alcoholic.

              1. Save me, oh St. Larry Csonka!

  10. something something TruckNutz something

  11. It must be noted that the backup cameras will also save the lives of innocent dogs.

    1. Back when I lived in Indiana, a neighbor’s cat used to sleep on my neighbor’s warm engine block during the winter. One night my neighbor goes to start his car and… No camera would prevent this tragedy. From inside my house, I could hear the neighbor kids crying and wailing.

      1. Classic! Stupid cats.

      2. That actually happened to my cat when we lived in Kentucky. It nearly disembowled him. Here’s the fucked-up part: the cat fell out of the engine, my dad heard it scream, looked under the car, and scooped him up.

        An emergency surgery and a few months of healing later, and that bastard was actually as good as new.

        1. One life down, eight to go.

        2. I had a friend whose cat lived through the same thing. Poor kitty is very careful around cars now.

      3. I had a cat that slept somewhere in the engine compartment of my car one day.

        That day, I got up, drove to work, and about half a mile from my house I heard some sort of thud under my floorboard. I looked in my rear view mirror and saw what I thought might be my cat. He was just sitting there in the middle of the road. I thought that I must have mistaken something else for my cat, but decided to turn around and check before I went too much further. When I got back to that spot, there was no cat to be found there.

        When I got home that evening, my wife told me that one of our cats was missing. So, I went back there and found the cat hiding in the nearest driveway. He suffered no injuries at all, much to my amazement.

    2. Next step is backup cameras for boats to stop the dolphin carnage. Wait, dolphins are too smart to hang out behind power boats? So if dolphins are smarter than human children I think this is a good case for dolphin rights. Or maybe we should rethink the sentience of human children.

      1. Manatees like to suck the fresh water discharge from outboard engines. My friend once when to start his boat, and…huge mess, since manatees weight a ton. Literally.

      2. No, that will be underwater cameras and GPS powered speed limiters.

  12. Here’s a much more cost-effective solution for preventing backovers: keep your misbegotten crotch-droppling out of the goddamn driveway.

    1. Yeah, we were strictly forbidden to be in the driveway when a car was about to move. It was impressed upon us that we were to be observant and careful. Our parents would also take time to check where we were before getting i the car.

      1. That’s because they didn’t care about child safety as much back then.

        1. I survived in spite of my parents’ careless near-hatred of me.

  13. Surprise surprise, people who cherish so-called “rights” put the right to a slightly cheaper car ahead of saving the lives of children.

    1. And dogs.

    2. Incoherent troll is incoherent.

    3. Shorter bozo:
      ‘It’s for the CHILDRUUUNZ!’

  14. This opinion comes from the same people that don’t want to mandate seatbelts or airbags. The truth is, this regulations has saved lives. And people haven’t stopped buying cars because they are too expensive. The regular Joe ends up with a safer car.

    1. Yep, the Regular Joe can make money appear like magic. Since he spends more on his car, that surely means he isn’t having to spend less somewhere else. It’s nothing but a 100% positive benefit for everyone!

    2. You’re missing the point here. The humans don’t like to be told what to do, regardless of how much sense it makes.

      1. Because regulation that costs American carbuyers somewhere between $12m and $18.5m per life saved “makes sense”, on your planet. What color is the sky there?

        1. We feel your pain. And we don’t know. The sky is just a rumor to us.

          Who wants an egg?

    3. Alice Bowie|2.28.12 @ 8:56PM|#
      “The regular Joe ends looking at a safer car he can’t afford”
      FIFY, bozo.

    4. The truth is, this regulations has saved lives.

      At the rock fucking bottom price of $12M/life.

      If it saves just one CHILDRUNZ it was worth it.

    5. I don’t wear my seatbelt, I refuse to. I also have to turn of the airbag for the passenger seat because it is dangerous to the people who normally ride there. Tell me again why I should have been forced to pay for these items?

    6. This legislation is you telling me what to do. Shut the fuck up.

    7. And people haven’t stopped buying cars because they are too expensive.

      Umm, yes they have. The average age of cars in this country has gone up to over 10 years. Part of that is better quality, of course, but part of it is that new cars are just so damn expensive.

    8. The truth is, this regulations has saved lives.

      Yeah, the lives of morons we’d be better off without. The death of morons by accidents is required for a functioning democracy, otherwise too many morons wind up voting.

    9. See my unintended consequences post below. I very much doubt this will result in a net saving of lives.

  15. Obviously people should be careful while driving, but all of these regulations add to the cost of production and ultimately make American-built cars less competitive. Besides that, Bloomberg reports that “back-up cameras are already a standard feature on 45 percent of 2012 passenger-car models, according to data compiled by Edmunds.com, an auto-market research company,” showing that voluntary enterprise was moving in this direction prior to the mandate.

    Aren’t these sort of contradictory arguments? Either they become a standard feature or they make regulated cars more expensive than non-regulated cars, but not both.

    1. Voluntary enterprise was providing the option for those who felt the feature was more valuable to them than the money they spent on it. Mandating that feature be on all cars takes that choice away, makes all cars more expensive, likely resulting in more people buying used cars instead of new, likely not significantly changing the statistics that caused the regulation in the first place.

      1. Or spending less on safety in other areas, which could mean a detrimental overall effect. There are 34,000 traffic fatalities a year, so if the reduced spending on other features due to forced spending on back-up cameras creates even an 0.3% increase there, it’s not worth it.

        And it’s definitely not worth it when you can achieve very similar effects with a beep during reverse or a sensor.

        1. “And it’s definitely not worth it when you can achieve very similar effects with a beep during reverse or a sensor.”

          Or perhaps instructing your kids to STAY OUT OF THE WAY OF VEHICLES THAT MIGHT MOVE!
          Sorta like telling them to stay out of the street.

  16. Off topic, but the neo-Nazi sack of shit comes last in the Arizona primary! Go figure.

    1. Max|2.28.12 @ 9:03PM|#
      “Off topic, but the neo-Nazi sack of shit comes last in the Arizona primary! Go figure.”

      So you voted early and often?

  17. This is like the worst chat room ever.

    1. You haven’t seen shit.

  18. I have one of these things on my Honda Odyssey and I find it next to useless. It seems to distort depth perception so badly, once it looks like you’re about to hit the little bugger, you’ve already hit him. I dunno, maybe that’s a feature, not a bug.

    1. Oh ed, you’re so edgy. Not that it isn’t “libertarian” to say you hate kids.

    2. If you say you drive a Honda Odyssey and you don’t mean this, you suck.

  19. Don’t drive cars, idiots.

    1. I rode my bike to Walgreens today. I am now going to make three special round trips to Walgreens in my automibile just to pick up an Arizona iced tea, you fucking pompous douche.

  20. When I was a kid my dad used this crazy technique called “standing where he could see me”. It was useful for both the car driveway and the golf course driveway. But I guess that’s subject to human error, while cameras will never be ignored. Never. Foolproof.

    1. Stand perfectly still right where I can see you, about thirty yards directly in front of my tee.

  21. 1. “but all of these regulations add to the cost of production and ultimately make American-built cars less competitive”

    Why would this make American-built cars less competitive? Wouldn’t all cars that are sold here have to come with this feature?

    2. I have one of these cameras and I rarely use it. Especially in winter when it’s at least partially covered with a salt/sand residue.

  22. Financial cost/benefit calculation should include the savings from prevented injuries and property damage as well. Just sayin’

    1. The Derider|2.28.12 @ 9:42PM|#
      “Financial cost/benefit calculation should include the savings from prevented injuries and property damage as well. Just sayin'”

      So it’s only $11.9M per life? Great point.

      1. Can I just have my $11.9 million and take my chances?

  23. Hey, this story looks familiar. Almost like it was in the morning links this morning. I guess another thing reason dumped from H&R was hat tips.

    1. they only give out hat tips when it was unlikely for them to find the information if you didn’t tell them about it.

  24. http://www.boston.com/news/pol…..p_primary/
    More than 4 in 10 voters in Michigan said they supported the federal bailout of the auto industry

    1. That’s an interesting spin. My first reaction would gave been “Holy Sheepshit! Only 40% of Michiganders supported the bailout? There may be hope for this country yet!”

    2. Why wasn’t the headline “More than half of voters in Michigan said they did not support the bailout”?

  25. considering the fact that most backover accidents involve the parent or relative of a child, the right course of action would be legislation that …

    requires constant government monitoring and analysis of the locations of all cars and people.

    That will save even more lives.

  26. A few years ago, while I was attempting to back out of a parking space, a small child ran into the path of my car. I nearly hit him. The memory of nearly injuring a child haunts me till this day. I consider myself a libertarian, but back up safety is worth it even if everyone has to pay more.

    1. but back up safety is worth it even if everyone has to pay more.

      Raising the price of a new car causes consumers, with limited resources, to delay or forego purchasing one. So I don’t see how you necessarily get the rate of rear-view camera installations to increase by mandating them. It seems to work out better if you just let wealthy people buy premium products, pay for the R&D and fine-tuning, then let mass production make the premium product ordinary and more affordable to everyone. As in cellular phones, microwave ovens, and cars.

    2. What you consider yourself is not that important.

      A backup camera would not have prevented you from hitting a dumbass that runs in the path of your car. Neither would brakes.

      1. Kinda true.. But a camera would have given a lot more warning. I bave no doubt that there are folks in the ground for lack of a rear looking camera.

        1. I bave no doubt there are any number of deaths that might not occur if some condition were present. Is legislating all those conditions acceptable?

        2. You didn’t actually hit the kid, so whatever safety equipment you had on your car at the time worked. You’re a product of public schools, aren’t you?

    3. You know that you can have a back up camera installed on your car, without a government mandate, right?

      Here’s a novel idea, try turning your head around, and look out your rear window while driving in reverse.

    4. back up safety is worth it even if everyone has to pay more.

      I guess its my turn:

      FUCK OFF, SLAVER.

    5. Are you sure it would have helped? I’m just wondering – if a kid is running in from the side, I think I would have more warning by looking out the windows than looking at the screen that only looks at the area behind the bumper.

  27. One more stupid electronic thing to rip out.

  28. Muddled child mojitos are the bomb.

  29. $12million per life saved… $18.5million per life saved… How long until the government decides we are all worth infinity dollars?

  30. In the “Rocket Men” issue of Reason, Zubrin (I think) discussed the concept of “statistical murder,” where once you reach a certain price per life saved you’re wasting money because other ways of saving lives are far more cost-effective. I don’t remember what the cutoff was but it was much closer to $1m than $12m.

    Some ways of saving lives actually save you money too, like not occupying third-world shitholes.

  31. and yet another reason to keep driving vintage cars.

    1. Mine has a cigarette lighter and an ash tray. An ash tray!

  32. Of course, the other option would be for parents to actually keep track of their children.

  33. I can ignore the camera pictures just as easily as I can ignore the rear view mirror.

  34. When cars can drive themselves, crushed children (and car accidents, and slow, crappy grandma drivers, and drunk driving, etc.) will be a thing of the past. Laying money down: twenty years that will be reality.

    1. I am a passionate advocate for self driving cars. I just hope that we get smart cars that can drive themselves instead of a centralized system that remote controls the car.

      1. Yeah, I’m worried government overregulation will keep it on the shelf longer than the technology will be actually ready to be implemented. And eventually they’ll mandate driverless cars. Again, I think the market will be there shortly with or without government anyway.

  35. How about we just teach people to be better drivers. I have one of these cameras and although I can see, the times I use it, versus actually paying attention to my surroundings is minimal.

  36. And what about the unintended consequences? How many poor people are going to keep driving the old clunker a couple more years because a new care is more expensive?

    That will affect their oh so important carbon footprint, but more importantly, how many people will die in these older cars who would have lived in safer newer cars?

  37. and as many as 8,374 injuries could be avoided each year by eliminating the wide blind

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