NHTSA to Require Backup Cameras on All Vehicles by 2018

vehicle back-up camera system

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently proposed a rule that requires all newly manufactured light vehicles to include “rear-view visibility systems,” specifically backup cameras. These vehicles would include all cars, SUVs, vans and trucks. While it won’t be in effect next year, it’s expected to start phasing in May 2016 and be completely implemented by May 1, 2018.

The NHTSA decided to make backup cameras a requirement following outrage from families and consumers affected by accidents involving back-overs, particularly incidents involving children. However, it’s arguable that the rule can also make parallel parking a much easier task for everyone.

Improving Vehicle Safety with Back-Up Cameras

The new rule would require vehicles to have back-up cameras that give drivers a clear 10’x20′ view zone behind the vehicle, along with other image size requirements to further improve visibility.

Providing statistical reasons for implementing the new rule, NHTSA’s 2010 report found that each year 210 people die from light-vehicle back-over accidents, while 15,000 are injured. 31% of those deaths are children under age 5 and 26% are adults over the age of 70. With the new rule, NHTSA estimates that 58-69 lives will be saved yearly by 2054, when all vehicles have rear-view visibility systems.

Another reason the rule has come into existence is that Congress recently passed a law requiring the Department of Transportation to have developed a rule regarding backup visibility devices by 2011. Originally, backup visibility systems were supposed to be a requirement last year, but several delays have prevented that from happening.

Looking Forward

Many have already expressed their contentment with the new rule, including KidsAndCars.org president Janette Fennell, who stated, “It’s about time the motoring public will finally be able to see what’s behind their vehicle while backing up.”

People have also voluntarily installed backup camera systems in increasing numbers, installing standard or optional cameras on new vehicle models. In fact, the NHTSA estimates that by 2018, 73% of light vehicles will voluntarily install rear-view cameras.


The expenses will also be minimal, costing only $132-142 to install a complete system, and $43-45 to install a camera on cars with a sufficient display.

Innovations like this will significantly help further reduce deaths and injuries caused by traffic accidents, particularly low-speed crashes. Rear-view visibility technology is simply one of the many developments we’ll see in the coming years.

Some of the other changes soon to come include smarter road designs, different driver behaviors, and expanded requirements for vehicle safety devices in places like India. Although we won’t likely see a day when the yearly average number of deaths caused by traffic accidents is 0, we can get closer with sound rules such as this one.