Washington, D.C. – The U.S. government has proposed a new safety regulation to help eliminate blind zones behind vehicles that can hide the presence of pedestrians. Automakers would probably install rear-mounted video cameras and in-vehicle displays to meet the standards, said the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The proposal would expand the required field of view for all passenger cars, pickup trucks, minivans, buses and low-speed vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of up to 10,000 lbs (4,535 kg) so that drivers can see directly behind the vehicle when the transmission is in reverse. To meet the requirements of the proposed rule, ten per cent of new vehicles must comply by September 2012; 40 per cent by September 2013; and 100 per cent by September 2014.

“The steps we are taking today will help reduce back-over fatalities and injuries not only to children, but to the elderly and other pedestrians,” said NHTSA administrator David Strickland. “And while these changes will make a difference, drivers must remember that no technology can or should replace full attention and vigilance when backing up. Always know where your children are before you start your car and make sure you check that there is no one behind you before you back up.”

NHTSA estimates that, on average, 292 fatalities and 18,000 injuries occur each year as a result of back-over crashes involving all vehicles. Of these, 228 fatalities involve light vehicles that would be covered by the ruling. Approximately 44 per cent of fatalities involving light vehicles are children under five, while 33 per cent are elderly people 70 years of age or older.

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