U.S. Department of Transportation Sued for Lack of Mandatory Backup Cameras; NHTSA Adds Them to Recommended List

By Jacob Brown | September 25, 2013
Who knew that a little camera could be such a contentious issue? Backup cameras are available in most every car on the market in the U.S.; they're standard in plenty as well. Yet, some consumer advocacy groups are actually suing the U.S. Department of Transportation because of the agency's lack of oversight. Back in 2008, it was proposed that backup cameras should be made standard in every car on the road by 2012. That obviously didn't happen, and an amended proposal by the former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said 2015 would make for a better time to get the backup camera law in place. Now the Consumer Union, the advocacy branch of what we know as that supposedly unbiased magazine that really does have an agenda to push is taking it to court, challenging the malaise. The backup camera systems cost between $58 and $203 to install per vehicle, according to Automotive News. However, automakers point out that its implementation would save just 95 to 112 lives per year, amounting to as much as $18 million per life. In the world of cost-benefit analysis, that's not a great deal. Alas, the NHTSA has now put backup cameras on its list of recommended items to be made mandatory for 2015. And what gets put on that list most often happens. Already, automakers are making the move towards putting backup camera systems into its cars as standard equipment; the 2015 Honda Fit will have one. It ultimately begs the question: If automakers are moving in that direction anyway, why is the Consumer Union acting so gung-ho about making the systems mandatory to the point of getting lawyers involved? Sources: NHTSA, Automotive News (Subscription required)