Rockefeller criticizes Obama administration for delaying car safety rule

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The proposal — which would have required automakers to add cameras that record what is happening behind cars, a common blind spot of drivers — was opposed by the lobbying group for car builders, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.

The auto alliance has said it supports allowing customers to have their choice of "driver assist" technologies when they are purchasing cars. But the group has said it opposes mandates on particular technologies because they make cars more expensive to buy. 

"Consumers today are very safety savvy, and they have much information online to help them choose how best to spend their safety dollars," Auto Alliance spokesman Wade Newtown said in a statement that was provided to The Hill. 

"Automakers are providing cameras in cars today for greater vision and for new driver assists, and consumers should decide which of these technologies they want to buy," Newtown continued.

The transportation department said Thursday that it was delaying the implementation of the new rule to study it further, not shelving it entirely.

"Safety is the Department of Transportation’s top priority—and we give especially high priority to the safety of children," the agency said in a statement.

"While progress has been made toward a final rule to improve rearward visibility, further study and data analysis are needed to ensure the most protective and efficient rule possible," the DOT statement continued.

The transportation department said it would encourage the adoption of rear view cameras without the mandate in the meantime by adding it as a "recommended technology" under its New Car Assessment Program (NCAP).

Doing so has spurred faster adoption of other automotive technologies, the agency said.

"We believe adding rearview video systems to NCAP may help to reduce the number of backover deaths and injuries by raising awareness among consumers and encouraging more automakers to include this technology in their vehicles," the DOT said. "As we have seen with other technologies in the past, we believe this will speed the adoption of rearview video systems prior to a final rule and during any phase-in period of the final rule."

Rockefeller said on Thursday he would press Transportation Secretary nominee Anthony Foxx (D) to speed up enactment of the rear view camera rule, which is being developed by the DOT's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Rockefeller said he will support the nomination of Foxx, who is currently the mayor of Charlotte, despite his disappointment with the Obama administration current transportation officials.

-This post was updated with new information at 7:07 p.m.

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