President Barack Obama wants all cars to come equipped with a rear-view camera.
It's one of his seven requests for pending regulations -- that would reportedly cost businesses $1 billion or more -- that he submitted to House Speaker John Boehner earlier this summer.
The rear-view camera rule was proposed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to help cut down on the number of fatal accidents caused when drivers back into pedestrians. NHTSA was required to write that rule under a 2008 law passed by Congress.
“No matter how skilled a driver, you can’t avoid hitting what you can’t see” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in a press release back in December 2010. “By increasing your field of vision, this rule will save lives."
The NHTSA reports that each year some 300 deaths and 18,000 injuries are directly attributable to back up accidents. The agency also reports that in some 70 percent of the accidents, family members are responsible.
The new regulation would require all passenger vehicles weighing up to 10,000 pounds and sold in the United States to have the new technology by 2014, requiring 10 percent of all U.S. auto-makers to install the cameras in their 2012 models. The organization says the cameras could help cut these accidents by a third.
So what does this mean for the average American? An increase to base cost of a car by about $200, according to a report from Hot Air. The article estimates the technology would cost the auto industry $2.7 billion a year:
Saving lives is always a good thing and I’m not about to try to put a price tag on the value of any individual one, but there’s a larger point to be made here. You’ll note that the installation of such cameras doesn’t stop or even cut in half such accidents. Why? Because we’re not talking about a design failure or product quality issue in terms of the cars. We’re talking about bad drivers who don’t check behind them and run people down. Cameras, I’m sorry to say, are never going to overcome the sheer weight of human stupidity and carelessness.
Is this the proper role of government regulation, to say nothing of a cost-effective tool for the consumer during tight economic times? Might we perhaps save a few dollars by mandating, instead of cameras, signs on the dashboard that say, “Hey, dummy. Look behind you before placing vehicle in reverse?”