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.

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