By Benjamin Goad - 01/02/14 12:44 PM EST
The Transportation Department is moving forward with long awaited regulations designed to prevent children from being backed over.
After years of delay, the agency’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) submitted a revamped version of the regulations to the White House on Christmas Day, according to records kept by the Office of Management and Budget.
“The Act requires that NHTSA expand the required field of view to enable the driver of a motor vehicle to detect areas behind the motor vehicle to reduce death and injury resulting from backing incidents, particularly incidents involving small children and disabled persons,” the administration said in a notice posted Dec. 25.
By law, the department was supposed to issue the regulations in 2011. But the Transportation Department pulled back last year, claiming it needed until 2015 to conduct further analysis.
Safety advocates say as many as two children are killed per week in back-over accidents, and filed a lawsuit shortly after that delay was announced. They accuse the administration of breaking the law by slowing down the rule, and argue the delay has cost children’s lives.
On Thursday, one of the petiioners in a lawsuit pressing for action on the rule, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, expressed cautious optimimism at the development.
"It's a positive sign that DOT is making progress on the rule in response to our lawsuit, but the process is far from over," said Henry Jasny, the group's senior vice president and general counsel.
"The administration has reached this point in the process previously only to have the rule languish for over a year and then be withdrawn," he said. "The administration needs to follow through this time and finally issue this rule that Congress ordered completed by 2011."
This story was updated with additional information at 5:21 p.m.
The language of the rule has not been released, though the 2007 statute calls for standards that could be met by "additional mirrors, sensors, cameras, or other technology to expand the driver’s field of view."
The regulation is considered economically significant in that it would cost at least $100 million annually to implement.