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NHTSA Requires New Cars To Have Backup Cameras, Automakers Push For Cameras To Replace Side Mirrors

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Cadillac's Rear Vision Camera with Dynamic Guidelines - image: GM Corp

Cadillac's Rear Vision Camera with Dynamic Guidelines - image: GM Corp

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on Monday proposed a rule requiring rear visibility camera technology in all new vehicles weighing less than 10,000 pounds, meaning all cars, SUVs and minivans as well as most small trucks and busses. The rule is expected to be finalized within the next two months, after which automakers have until May 1, 2018 to have the technology implemented.

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The camera must expand the field of view to enable the driver of a motor vehicle to detect areas behind the vehicle (the field of view must have a 10-foot by 20-foot zone), which will help to reduce death and injury resulting from accidents taking place during reversing. NHTSA says that on average there are 210 fatalities and 15,000 injuries per year caused when a vehicle is backing up, and of these 31 percent are said to involve children under the age of five.

The cost of the technology is estimated to be between $132 and $142 per vehicle, although it should be cheaper for vehicles that already have a display screen mounted in the dash. Some vehicles may also have the display integrated with the rearview mirror, which must still be present.

Automakers, meanwhile, are now seeking to have more cameras installed on cars. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers lobby group as well as Tesla also today filed a petition with NHTSA seeking permission to have side mirrors replaced by small cameras that would then display a digital image inside the car. Side mirrors are required by a U.S. regulation known as Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 111, but they create a lot of drag and wind noise, especially at highway speeds.

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Already previewed on some concept cars, such as the Tesla Model X prototype, the side mirror-replacing cameras can significantly boost fuel economy of vehicles due to less drag, something automakers are keen to achieve due to stricter fuel economy and emissions regulations.

Tesla Model X

Tesla Model X

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