The Department of Transportation today is proposing a new safety regulation that would effectively make rear-view cameras mandatory equipment in all new cars by late 2014. The proposed rule is intended to help eliminate blind zones.
The rule itself would not explicitly require cameras, but it would mandate that new vehicles provide a 180-degree field of view behind the vehicle when it is in reverse -- so it would have the practical effect of requiring rear-view cameras as standard equipment.
The proposed rule change, put forward by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), was required by Congress as part of the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act of 2007. The legislation was named for two-year old Cameron Gulbransen, who was killed when his father accidentally backed over him in the family's driveway.
The NHTSA estimates that, on average, 292 fatalities and 18,000 injuries occur each year because of drivers backing over people, and children and the elderly are particularly at risk.
"There is no more tragic accident than for a parent or caregiver to back out of a garage or driveway and kill or injure an undetected child playing behind the vehicle," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement. "The changes we are proposing today will help drivers see into those blind zones directly behind vehicles to make sure it is safe to back up."
If the rule is made final, which would happen sometime early next year, it would start getting phased in the following year with 10 percent of auto-manufacturers' fleets required to meet the standard by September 2012, 40 percent by September 2013, and 100 percent by September 2014.
Stephanie Condon is a political reporter for CBSNews.com. You can read more of her posts here. Follow Hotsheet on Facebook and Twitter.