Consumers Union supported KidsAndCars.org's position.
"Even a small blind zone of just a few feet can be big enough for a child to dart behind a vehicle, unseen by the driver," Ami Gadhia, senior policy counsel for Consumers Union, said after the NHTSA postponed its decision. "That's a tragedy waiting to happen. The best way to prevent this tragedy is a rearview camera system with a video screen and an obstruction sensor."
The decision is not an easy one for automakers. A proposed rule wouldn't require a backup camera per se, but it would be almost impossible to meet the requirements by any other means. Automakers would have to add a camera near the trunk keyhole, along with a mounting bracket, connector, cabling, and either a monitor or a special mirror that displays the camera view.
General Motors told us that in most cases, no microcontroller or databus connection would be needed. According to figures published in the NHTSA's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the cost for automakers would be $160-$200 per vehicle, not counting the center display.
Automakers have remained publicly uncommitted on the issue. Although the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers said it supports improved rearward visibility, it fell short of supporting backup cameras.
"You could potentially do it with expanded mirrors," said Wade Newton, a spokesman for the alliance. However, "if it's a done deal, we don't see any point in not being supportive."
Approximately 68 percent of new vehicles are said to offer backup cameras. Forty-five percent include it as standard equipment, while 23 percent have it as an option. The technology could present an economic problem for entry-level vehicles, which typically have thin profit margins.