WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration is again delaying regulations already more than two years overdue on whether new cars and trucks must come equipped with rearview cameras to protect against drivers backing over people in blind spots behind their vehicles.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Thursday in letters to three members of Congress that more research is needed. He set a new deadline of January 2015 for the regulations.
An average of 228 people are killed and 17,000 injured each year because of back-over accidents. Many of the accidents occur in driveways and parking lots. Nearly half the deaths involve children under age 10. The elderly also frequently are victims.
The emotional toll of the accidents is especially high since many of the drivers are parents or family members of those killed and injured.
Congress passed a law in 2008 requiring the government to issue final regulations aiming at protecting against back-over accidents by Feb. 28, 2011, but the regulations have been delayed repeatedly. The law didn't require that cars and trucks come equipped with cameras in the rear of the vehicle that display images on a dashboard screen provided another solution could be found.
After studying the issue, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said cameras were the best solution and recommended more than two years ago that they be required on all new cars and trucks. The safety administration has estimated that making rear cameras standard on every car would add $58 to $88 to the price of vehicles already equipped with dashboard screens and $159 to $203 for those without them.
The auto industry has opposed requiring cameras on all vehicles as too expensive, saying it would cost the industry $2.7 billion annually. Many vehicles already come with the cameras as standard or optional equipment.
"I am deeply disappointed by the administration's foot-dragging over a rule that could help save the lives of hundreds of young children and prevent thousands of heartbreaking injuries," said Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.
"The fact is simple -- we know installing rear cameras in cars will prevent injury and death," he said. "The administration needs to move forward with this common-sense safety measure because children's lives are in jeopardy."