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NHTSA delays camera decision

The National Highway Safety Administration has postponed its final rulemaking on whether to require backup cameras on all vehicles by Sept. 2014.

The final ruling was expected to be released Feb. 28. NHTSA proposed the rule in December and gave the public two months to comment.

"The public comment period on this safety proposal only recently closed, and NHTSA will be asking Congress for additional time to analyze public comments, complete the rulemaking process and issue a final rule," the agency said in an emailed statement.

It did not say how long the delay would last.

NHTSA estimates about 18,000 people a year are hurt in back-over accidents, with about 3,000 suffering "incapacitating" injuries. The agency said 44 percent of the incidents involve children under age 5.

If enacted, the ruling could generate as much as $2.7 billion in revenue to suppliers of backup-camera components, the administration said in its initial report.

One such supplier is Gentex Corp., which provides rear- camera display mirrors to 59 vehicles sold by Ford, General Motors, Toyota and other automakers.

R.W. Baird analyst David Leiker has said the Zeeland, Mich., supplier has "nearly 100 percent" of the market for rear-camera display mirrors. He said in-mirror monitor displays could spread to lower-priced vehicles that don't have video displays already installed, because "the consumer prefers it in the mirror."

In response to the delayed ruling, Brett Hoselton, a senior automotive analyst with KeyBanc Capital Markets, issued a hold notice on Gentex stock. A hold indicates the stock is expected to remain steady for the next 6 to 12 months.

Following NHTSA's original proposal, Gentex stock jumped 17 percent to $26.89 on the Nasdaq Stock Market and it has continued to rise. The shares closed Friday at $30.65, up 23 cents from where they opened.

"The reason for the delay is the large number of comments (approximately 200) that made it not feasible to work through in the original timeline," Hoselton said in a statement.

He said he expects the rule to be tweaked to include testing for illumination at night and the time it takes the picture to appear on the display. Overall, though, he said there shouldn't be any major changes that would cause the ruling to be enacted later than September.

NHTSA did not specify the position of the camera display. Most current systems connect to either a console display, such as those used for navigation systems, or a small screen embedded in the rearview mirror, such as Gentex's products.

The agency says the cheapest option is to connect the camera to a vehicle's existing video screen at a cost of $58 to $88. Equipping a vehicle that doesn't already have a screen would cost $159 to $203, NHTSA said.

To meet the requirements of the proposed rule, NHTSA said, 10 percent of new vehicles must comply by Sept. 2012, 40 percent by Sept. 2013 and 100 percent by Sept. 2014.


I really like my rearview camera on my car, but car designers have just as much blame in even NEEDING the cameras. High rear ends, due to aerodynamics, in most new cars leads to the large blindspots behind the vehicle. SUVs and trucks have always had this problem though, and that's probably what they'd mandate having them first.

Personally I don’t think it’ll save too many lives. Before I get in my SUV I access the area behind me to determine if there is anything I should worry about (kids playing, people walking). Then when I back up I’m pretty confident that I’m safe when backing up. If people don’t take that little effort before they get in their car…I doubt they’ll pay much attention to the camera. This would be a stupid mandate that’s being pushed by the people who make the camera’s.

“I really like my rearview camera on my car, but car designers have just as much blame in even NEEDING the cameras. High rear ends, due to aerodynamics, in most new cars leads to the large blindspots behind the vehicle.”

I couldn’t agree more. The CV being lost according to several cops I’ve talked to, will be missed as much for visibility as anything else. Let’s get real, the better the visibility, potentially the safer the car.

The mandatory BU cameras on SUVs and trucks should be a cheap add on in this day and age, WHY not. But why is it necessary in many sedans, designers ? Instead, lets put the glass area where it’s really needed, instead of looking at the stars…Scion tC owners ( though I must admit it is real cool.:=)

Perhaps this extra time allows a second or third source to come online.

Personally I don’t think it’ll save too many lives. Before I get in my SUV

That is the problem. It is not the driver who is careful that the proposal address, but rather the lazy driver who does not bother to be as careful.

Because they couldn’t be as aerodynamic if they lowered the trunk line, nor could they offer as much cargo room in the trunk if the lid sat lower.

And extra $200(the highest price listed in the article) can be negotiated away anyhow by a savvy car buyer. And, as oldschool pointed out, it could give other companies time to put their bids in and maybe even lower the prices a little bit

I backed over the kid’s bike once which really drove home the need to pre-flight the area before leaving. Yes I know better, slap my forehead, it could’ve been the kid !


1 - A camera would NOT have seen down THERE.
2 - MANDATING it is even worse. If I want one I’ll buy one.


You would also think them very strange looking. The front has to be a certain height now due to European safety standards which specify that the car has to hit pedestrians above the waist so they don’t cartwheel into the windshield. This is why new cars all look like battering rams now. So if you have a high front, and then lower the rear deck for good visibility you end up with a weird backwards looking car that’s uglier than a Gremlin (almost).

Why wouldn’t a camera see down there? They’re generally wide-angle lenses that show more than you can see by looking out of a back window. Including the ground immediately behind the bumper.

But not in front of the rear bumper , behind the right rear tire, mostly under the right quarter panel !
It’s a big truck, an 08 Ford Expedition EL.
Knowing this, we who own such vehicles need to develop a different driving habbit. Before getting in the ‘bus’, even at the WalMart parking lot, take a walk around. You get to see your distances, tires, and obstacles in 15 seconds or less.

In my airplane days a walkaround pre-flight was a must. So now, for my trucks, it’s not a far stretch at all to apply the theory and practice.

Doesn’t even have to be BIG truck…one time surveying the rear of my truck…I found my sons tricycle sitting UNDER my pathfinder. My son could have easily been sitting on it…and the camera NEVER would have seen it…

A few years ago here in NH…a guy was backing out of his driveway and ran over his son. Again a camera NEVER would have seen him. His 2yo was was laying down under the car trying to get a ball…The camera had no angle under the car…

Here’s another scenario where a camera is no good, even if in use.

AND a huge reason to have your RADIO OFF until you’re under way.

— The “hey Dad wait for me.” …aka “I wanna go too” …aka “Where ya goin” —scenario ;

You start the car/truck/vehicle.
You check mirrors AND backup camera…all clear.
You beging reversing, then
outa nowhere, zooming 'round behind form right side to left, “Hey Dad where ya going?,ya going to the store ?I wanna go too !!!”

No camera’s going to see this in time, you need to be looking…AND LISTENING to avoid running over the little one !

“Personally I don’t think it’ll save too many lives.”

I agree. But when auto manufacturers used that as a design paradigm in the past, it has cost them a lot of money in law suits. Consider the exploding Pinto gas tanks as an analog. The auto companies might feel forced to at least offer back-up cameras as an option on most vehicles just to avoid law suits. The words: “If it just saves one life…” might be enough to sway a jury. When viewed this way, the mandate might not be such a bad idea; it may be inevitable anyway.

“Before I get in my SUV I access the area behind me to determine if there is anything I should worry about (kids playing, people walking).”

There is no substitute for being a thoughtful, responsible driver. Everyone should behave this way whether they drive a truck or a car. I’m always concerned when I back out of my garage that I might hit someone. My kids are grown now, but they or my wife might have the dog in the front yard. And younger neighbor kids might be out there.

And the other bad thing about the camera …it gives you a false sense of security. Look at the camera…don’t see anything…ok to back up. People might then miss the step of accessing the rear of the vehicle before they begin to drive away…BIG MISTAKE.