Consumer groups scold administration over delay to rearview camera rule

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The regulation is designed to prevent drivers from accidentally backing over children, and was called for in the 2008 Cameron Gulbransen Kids and Transportation Safety Act. The law called for regulation to be finalized by February 2011.

Not until November of that year, though, did the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) propose a rule requiring rearview cameras in new cars.

That proposal was sent to a little-known White House office for what was supposed to be a 90-day review, but sat there for a year and a half.

The NHTSA says it is delaying the rule to do further analysis on backover accidents, which it expects to finish by the end of 2014.

"This additional analysis will contribute significantly to our understanding of the backover crash problem," the agency said in a statement. "We will also identify and analyze cases that involve vehicles equipped with rear visibility systems to further refine our understanding of how the proposed requirements address the real world safety risk."

Safety advocates aren't happy.

"These rules are long overdue. It's time to stop the delays and put these rules into place," said Ami Gadhia, senior policy counsel with Consumers Union, the policy arm of Consumer Reports. "Rear visibility and vehicle backovers are a serious problem, and consumers shouldn't have to wait any longer for the reforms that Congress asked for."

Katherine McFate, president and CEO of the Center for Effective Government, added, "Congress passed this law to ensure children would not be needlessly killed. Five years after Congress ordered the Transportation Department to issue the rule, the administration is still stalling and American families are paying the price for this delay.”

The advocacy group KidsAndCars.org claims that 228 kids are killed by being backed over each year.

The rule is expected to cost automakers up to $2.7 billion per year, according to 2010 NHTSA analysis, though consumer groups say that the cost has declined has more companies install the camera systems on their own.

Separately, NHTSA is also considering updating its new car assessment system to give better safety recommendations to cars with rearview cameras. A request for comments on that proposal is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on Wednesday.