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Jim Lewis
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Groups Sue DOT To Force Implementation of Backup Camera Rule

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A group of car safety organizations, led by the group Public Citizen, filed a lawsuit earlier this week against the U.S. Department of Transportation, asking the court to force the agency to issue a rule requiring car companies to install backup cameras in all newly manufactured vehicles.

The move is years overdue, according to the groups, given that Congress passed legislation in 2007 requiring automakers to install the devices. The bill contained language that granted the DOT four years to review possible options and develop an industry-wide standard. Those four years expired more than two years ago and there is still no sign of progress. Experts say that the DOT has caved to industry pressure and has continually stalled efforts to implement the safety rule.

A recent in-depth exploration of the issue uncovered that all this wasted time has led to real harm to thousands of people, especially young children. An investigation revealed that an average of 40 children under five years old are injured every week in back-over accidents. Out of this group, an average of two children are killed.

Tragically, many of these accidents occur at the hands of a relative, usually a parent. It’s horrible to imagine dozens of parents enduring the pain of backing over their own children every week, especially when a solution has already been developed. Safety advocates are furious with the delay, with one outspoken critic saying that the DOT has unconscionably delayed its rear visibility standard, a decision that could have prevented harm from occurring to thousands of children every year.

Those suing the DOT to force implementation of the safety directive say that the backup cameras should be viewed like other now standard safety features, including airbags and seat belts, not as a luxurious extra such as a sunroof or leather seats. The features are lifesaving tools that could easily be incorporated into all new vehicles if manufacturers simply made the decision to do it. However, car companies are allowing a relatively small reduction in their profit margins to stand in the way of this important safety tool, something Public Citizen and other consumer advocacy groups are thankfully taking action against.