White House Delays Rule to Prevent Kids from Being Hurt, Killed in Back-Over Accidents
by Katie Weatherford, 6/21/2013
Every week in the United States, 50 children under the age of 15 are injured or killed as a result of back-over collisions involving cars and trucks. These tragic accidents occur because most vehicles lack the proper equipment to allow a driver to see people or objects located directly behind the car or truck. Yesterday, the Obama administration decided to hold off on finalizing a rule that would require car manufacturers to install rear-view cameras in new automobiles. The delay until January 2015 means that during the next 18 months, thousands more children will be injured or killed.
Rear-view cameras would reduce the blind zone behind a vehicle and allow a driver to see much more of what is, or hopefully is not, behind a car when backing up, as illustrated in the graphic below:
The decision to postpone the rule until 2015 is not the first time this rule has been delayed. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) at the Department of Transportation began developing its Rear Visibility rule in 2009 after Congress passed and President George W. Bush signed legislation mandating that the agency issue a standard that would require manufacturers to install rear-view cameras in vehicles. Although the law set a deadline of February 2011 for the rule to be finalized, the draft of the final rule was not completed until November 2011 and has been stuck in review at the White House ever since.
Public interest advocates and a prominent senator do not support the decision. The delay comes only a week after the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards released a report that lists the Rear Visibility rule as one of eight standards that the administration should finalize right away. The coalition's co-chairs, Katherine McFate of the Center for Effective Government and Robert Weissman of Public Citizen, issued a statement opposing the decision to delay the rule. Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) also criticized the delay and urged the Obama administration to move forward with the rule.
Rear-view camera technology already exists, but unfortunately, until this technology becomes standard for new automobiles, completely avoidable back-over collisions, injuries, and deaths will continue to happen.
UPDATE: On Sept. 25, 2013, public interest groups, joined by two parents, filed suit against the Department of Transportation (DOT) for the agency’s unreasonable delay in finalizing a rule that would require improved rear visibility in new cars. Although the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act required DOT to finalize a rule by 2011, the agency has delayed the rulemaking multiple times, most recently withdrawing it from review at the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB’s) Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) and pushing the deadline to January 2015.
The two parents filing suit know firsthand the tragedy of unintentionally backing over their child. Susan Auriemma hit and injured her three-year old daughter, Kate. Dr. Greg Gulbransen hit and killed his two-year old son, Cameron. Both accidents happened when the parents were backing up in their driveways despite taking all available precautions. These parents, along with Consumers Union of the United States, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, and Kids and Cars., Inc., (all represented by Public Citizen) argued in the petition that the agency’s unreasonable delay in finalizing the rule violates the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and have asked the court to order DOT to move forward with the rule within 90 days to prevent unnecessary injuries and deaths resulting from back-over accidents.back to Blog