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Published: Saturday, 12/4/2010

Rearview car cameras get Cabinet-level endorsement

LOS ANGELES — The federal government wants automakers to install backup cameras in all new vehicles starting in late 2014.

The plan, announced Saturday, received a strong endorsement from the insurance industry and other analysts and is likely to get some level of support from car manufacturers.

“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. “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.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that, on average, 292 fatalities and 18,000 injuries occur each year as a result of back-over crashes. The agency said children and the elderly were the most common victims. About 44 percent of the fatalities in such accidents are children and 33 percent are people over 70, it said.

The agency said its proposal was designed to keep drivers from running over pedestrians who might be crossing behind their vehicles. It could also prevent parking lot bumper thumpers.

The camera systems allow motorists to see what's behind them via a video display on their dashboard. They typically feature a bell or alarm that alerts the driver if an object is within the camera's field of view.

Such systems are available on some models now, usually as an expensive option, but the price is coming down.

Safety regulators have given the public 60 days to make comments.

Ford Motor Co. has pitched its safety features in cars, noting that rearview cameras would be available on nearly all Ford and Lincoln models by the end of 2011.

Such features add to the price of the car. The rearview camera system adds about $400 to the price of a Ford.

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