Rearview cameras are becoming commonplace in vehicles built today, especially since there’s a lot more sheetmetal and a lot less window than there used to be. That can be attributed to tougher collision and rollover standards.
But rearview cameras aren’t mandatory. At least not yet.
In 2007, Congress gave the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, headed up by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, the groundwork to mandate rearview monitors by February 2011. He extended the plan back to December 2o12 to get all his ducks in a row to mandate that all new cars and trucks in the U.S. have backup cameras.
We’re nearing that date now. Automakers aren’t happy about it, either, as they say that it’ll cost $1.9 billion to $2.7 billion annually. For vehicles with built-in monitors that lack cameras, that means it’ll cost an additional $58 to $88 per vehicle. For vehicles without monitors altogether, the cost will come in at $159 to $203 in additional cost to make them work with rearview backup systems. In early GMC Acadias and Hummer H3s, vehicles that came without infotainment monitors had small screens built into their rearview mirrors, for instance. All Acadias now feature in-dash screens with higher resolution.
But we assume that the automakers aren’t happy with this largely because it will be impossible to bundle backup cameras with expensive options anymore, so it’ll cut into their bottom lines. Kia, for instance, only offers a backup camera in the Rio when its UVO infotainment system or navigation system option are selected.
The NHTSA claims that hitting people while backing up claims 300 lives per year and injures as many as 16,000; automakers counter that it will cost them $11 million per life saved versus $9.8 million per life saved with the implementation of stricter rollover standards. While that sounds cold, you have to remember that automakers are in the business of selling cars, not making sure you don’t drive absentmindedly. Remember, the car is only as smart as the idiot behind its wheel.
What are your thoughts on rearview monitors? While helpful, do you think the government should mandate protecting people from themselves? Do you think automakers have a responsibility to force drivers to pay attention and drive more safely? Let us know in the comments section below.
Source: Detroit News