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Lawmakers, Advocates Push to Make Back Up Cameras Standard

If some lawmakers and safety advocates have their way, your next new car may have a standard rearview camera.

The Detroit News reports that Peter King, a Republican representative from New York and Jan Schakowsky, a Democratic representative from Illinois, are pushing the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to finalize regulations to make backup cameras standard on new cars.

Honda Crosstour rearview camera
photo courtesy of Honda

In 2007, congress passed a law requiring that NHTSA set rear visibility requirements by Feb. 28, 2011, but the requirements have been repeatedly delayed by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. The Detroit News reports that adding cameras as standard equipment will cost the auto industry between $1.9 billion and $2.7 billion each year, according to data from 2010. Adding the cameras would raise the price of a new car between $159 to $203 if the car doesn't have a display screen, and $58 to $88 if the car does.

Safety advocates argue that the costs don't matter when lives are at stake. Kids and Cars, a safety advocacy group, says that between 1991 and 2011, 1,051 children under the age of 16 were killed in back over incidents. NHTSA estimates that 183 people are killed and 6,700 to 7,419 are injured each year in back over accidents.

Karen Pauly, an Iowa woman who backed over and killed her 19 month old son, now lobbies for standard rearview cameras in cars. She told the Des Moines, Iowa NBC affiliate that she asks lawmakers to "picture their son, daughter, grandchild or whoever in their life when they listen to me talk about the things that I saw that day when I saw him lying there.”

Cars.com says that some automakers, in response to consumer demand for rearview cameras, already have them as standard equipment on many of their models. They cite Honda, Hyundai and Kia as examples of carmakers with standard rearview cameras across most of their model lines. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers says that 70 percent of new cars have rearview cameras as available equipment.

If the regulations hadn't been delayed, 10 percent of new cars would have had rearview cameras by September 2012, 40 percent by a year later, and 100 percent by September 2014. Now it looks like the regulations will take effect by the 2015 model year at the earliest.

In our own Best Cars for Families awards, the availability of a rearview camera is a key component in determining the winners in each class. If you're searching for a family car, a rearview camera should be on the top of your list of features to look for.

Shopping for a new car? Check out the U.S. News rankings of this year's best cars. Then, look for a great deal on a new car by checking out this month’s best car deals. Also, be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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