The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) at the White House is now reviewing the latest set of proposed federal vehicle standards for rear visibility, the Detroit News reported.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, delivered the newest iteration of the proposed rules on Dec. 25, after conducting its own analysis. Now OMB will assess the rules’ costs and benefits and determine whether to give its final approval.
To comply with the proposed standards for rear visibility, auto manufacturers would need to equip all new vehicles with rear-view cameras. The goal is to prevent backup crashes that, according to NHTSA, on average kill 292 people and injure 18,000 annually. Children under the age of five represent 44 percent of the deaths. NHTSA estimates that a rear-view camera mandate would cut the number of deaths in half.
Back in 2007, Congress passed legislation requiring the Department of Transportation to issue a final ruling on more stringent rear-visibility standards by February 2011. President George Bush signed the legislation into law on Feb. 28, 2008.
But the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers has opposed such a mandate, arguing that consumers should decide for themselves whether to assume the extra cost of such safety equipment. The industry estimates that a mandate requiring rear-view cameras in all new vehicles will cost $2.7 billion annually, which breaks down to roughly an additional $160 to $200 per vehicle. And that cost will be passed along to consumers.
In response, NHTSA has repeatedly postponed a final ruling on the rear visibility standards. In June 2013, the agency set a new deadline, Jan. 2, 2015, citing a need to gather more cost-benefit data.
In September 2013, these delays spurred some safety advocacy groups to file a lawsuit requesting a federal Court of Appeals to order NHTSA to issue a final ruling within 90 days.
It’s unclear how long OMB will take reviewing the latest proposed standards, the Detroit News reported.
Nearly 80 percent of 2013 models offered a rear-view camera as either an optional or standard safety feature, according to Edmunds.com.