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From Products Liability Law Daily, September 25, 2013

Rearview video systems added to NCAP as “Recommended Advanced Technology Feature”

By Joseph Bichl

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that it will add rearview video systems to its list of recommended features under its New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) (NHTSA News Release, 27-10, September 24, 2013). The addition to the list of Recommended Advanced Technology Features (RATFs) was made to encourage improved rearview visibility and help prevent backover accidents while the agency continues to labor over a much-delayed rear visibility rule (NHTSA News Release, 27-10, September 24, 2013).

Rearview video phased in. NHTSA indicated that will include rearview video systems into the NCAP program in two phases: (1) the agency will identify on www.safercar.gov vehicle models that have rearview video systems; and (2) as soon as the agency is able to verify that the vehicle model has a rearview video system meeting certain basic criteria, it will recognize those vehicle models as having this RATF on www.safercar.gov. In order to be included as an RATF, the rearview image must:

• cover the 20-foot by 10-foot zone directly behind the vehicle;

• be displayed within two seconds after the reverse direction is selected; and

• be large enough to enable the driver to make judgments about the objects in the image and avoid a crash with those objects.

Rearview video systems will replace Electronic Stability Control as an RATF on www.safercar.gov, as the latter technology is now standard on all new vehicles. Forward collision warning and lane departure warning systems will continue to be featured on the site, the agency said.

Rear visibility rule delay. A rear visibility rule, mandated by the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act, which was signed into law in 2008 by President George W. Bush and was required to be finalized by February 2011, is now over two years overdue. In June of this year, former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood postponed the rule until 2015.

At the time of the postponement, consumer safety advocates and legislators expressed disappointment that the rule has been delayed for the second time. Sen. John Rockefeller (D-WV), a co-sponsor of the legislation, said in a statement that he was disappointed by the agency’s “foot dragging” over the rule’s implementation, arguing that installing rear cameras in cars will prevent injury and death. Rockefeller made it clear that would press Anthony Foxx, once he’s confirmed as Transportation Secretary, replacing the outgoing LaHood, to finalize the rule before the new 2015 deadline.

“The Administration needs to move forward with this common sense safety measure because children’s lives are in jeopardy,” Rockefeller said.

Joan Claybrook, former NHTSA administrator, stated that rearview cameras are available and affordable, and should be standard equipment on all vehicles. Indeed, she maintained that many auto manufacturers already are making the cameras standard equipment on new makes and models.

According to NTHSA estimates, approximately 228 people are killed and 17,000 injured each year in back-over incidents.

MainStory: TopStory NHTSANews MotorEquipmentNews

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