Parents to Obama: Order rearview cameras on cars

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In 2008, then-President George W. Bush signed into law the Cameron Gulbransen Kids and Transportation Safety Act, which sailed through Congress without opposition. The bill was named after a two-year-old child who was killed when his father accidentally backed over him in the family driveway.

The law required the executive branch to issue a rule requiring cars to have "additional mirrors, sensors, cameras, or other technology to expand the driver’s field of view" by February 2011.

In December 2010, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued its intention to propose a rule requiring "a rear visibility system that includes a rear-mounted video camera and an in-vehicle visual display" for motor vehicles.

But the rule never came.

After several comment periods, the proposal was sent to the White House in November 2011 for what was supposed to be a 90-day review. It has been there ever since.

An NHTSA spokesman issued a statement to The Hill saying, "The Department remains committed to improving rearview visibility for the nation's automobiles. The rule remains under review."

On Thursday, Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and Pete King (R-N.Y.) joined advocates and parents of children killed in backover accidents to press for the rule.

“Rearview cameras are available and affordable," said Joan Claybrook, a former NHTSA chief and previous president of the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen, in a statement. "Rearview cameras as standard equipment will save lives and save consumers hundreds of dollars in potential repair costs when they can actually see when backing up. Every day of delay costs consumers and puts children at risk.”

KidsAndCars.org claims that 50 children are backed over by a vehicle each week, and 228 are killed yearly.

In 2010, the NHTSA predicted the cost to automakers would be up to $2.7 billion per year, which would translate to an additional $159 to $203 per vehicle for consumers.

But consumer groups say that cost is declining, as more and more automakers institute rearview cameras on their own accord.

"The compliance cost is going to be marginally decreasing every year as these new models just come standard with these rearview cameras," said Amit Narang, a regulatory policy expert with Public Citizen.

Advocates also say that, in some ways, the benefits can't be calculated.

"It's very hard to measure the benefit to an individual and to society if that person is not either killed prematurely, a parent does not lose a child or an individual is not disabled and could therefore go on to do things that they might not be able to if they were, say, a quadriplegic after a backover accident," added Ami Gadhia, a policy analyst at Consumers Union.

"How do you make a decision when it comes to a child's life that it's just not worth it to put this rule in place?"