Backup Cameras Now Mandatory On All New U.S.-Spec Vehicles

After more than a decade of lobbying by consumer safety groups, backup cameras are now mandated in all new vehicles built after May 1, 2018. That means automakers must include a rear-facing backup camera as standard equipment in their new vehicles.

Even though they are far from new and have recently become quite widespread in the industry, the new legislation is going to affect some automakers, like BMW and Porsche, which bundled backup cameras within expensive option packages or sold them as a separate option.

The regulation dates back to 2014, when the U.S. Department of Transportation (DoT) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) mandated that backup cameras be included in all new vehicles starting May 1, 2018. That gave automakers four years to adapt to the new law.

Surprisingly, advocates for the standardization of backup cameras have been working on the issue since the George W. Bush administration. That’s according to Peter Kurdock, the deputy general counsel with the Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety, one of the main proponents of the backup camera legislation.

“It literally took us 10 years to get them into the cars,” Kurdock told Car and Driver.

Kurdock’s group, known more simply as Advocates, actually sued the NHTSA in 2013 to push for a speedier response to backup camera rules. Less than a year later, the law was passed.

The Advocates’ win on backup cameras isn’t the end goal. The group, along with others, is now pushing for more comprehensive active safety equipment to become standard equipment. These include features such as automatic emergency braking with forward collision alert, blind spot warning, and lane departure warning.

Thankfully, many automakers aren’t waiting around for legislation to be passed. Volvo, for example, has set the lofty goal of zero deaths in its vehicles by 2020. Toyota has made its suite of active safety system standard on all models; and all major automakers are working on autonomous driving technology that, when ready, is supposed to reduce accidents by removing the human factor.

So, as of this month, you won’t find a new vehicle in America without a backup camera, though it’s unknown if manufacturers will bump up the price of certain models to compensate for the increased cost. What do you think? Do backup cameras really help increase vehicle safety? Let us know in the comments below.

  • brn

    We’ve a vehicle with backup beepers and one with a backup camera. I much prefer the beepers.

    Backup cameras provide value, but some folk use them as their primary tool for backing up. That’s quite a bit more dangerous than looking over your shoulder or using your mirrors.

    • rodriguez256

      Prefer the use of both sensors and cameras.

    • I’ve found many modern vehicles have such limited rear visibility that the side mirrors and backup camera are almost a necessity for backing up.

      • wins_lord


  • Dr Strangefingger

    Same here…. and i prefer my sensor beepers over the camera.

  • Steve Hatton

    backup cameras surely you mean reversing cameras ?

    • Dr Strangefingger

      Naah bro, talking bout back dat azz up cameras. You know, for safety n sh#@!

    • Thunderbolt

      if you have a neck problem and can’t turn to look back, use the camera as your backup.

      • brn

        AND your mirrors.

  • Bash

    Good, but I prefer front and rear sensors tho. you know, all around.

  • S3XY

    Sensors are stupid. Annoying beeps are dumb. It’s easy to gauge distant. The sensors are not even accurate anyway. Back up cameras with guidance lines are very beneficial. The best is being able to drive with the rear view camera on (Tesla, F-Type)

    • Daniel

      I dont need any of them in my 2005’s Smart Forfour.
      If there is a case where i worry, i just put my head out of the window and look behind the car while safely driving backwards 🙂

  • jrelon

    Can’t wait for the day entry level vehicles are priced at $40,000.

    • Auf Wiedersehen

      It’s not far away.

  • Auf Wiedersehen

    I thought it already was.

  • Vassilis


  • BlackPegasus

    Even with backup cameras I continually see idiots who cannot parallel park nor back themselves out of a Walmart parking spot.

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