Consumers have won a landmark victory: Starting in 2018 all new vehicles will be required to enable drivers to see what is directly behind them. This will save two lives each week.
The Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act -- signed into law in 2008 -- required increased rear visibility for American vehicles. The act was named for Cameron Gulbransen, whose father accidentally backed over the 2-year-old. As the lead sponsor of this legislation, I worked with a bipartisan group of legislators to get it enacted.
Hundreds of families, like the Gulbransens, have experienced this type of tragedy. The Department of Transportation estimates that the new rule will prevent 95 to 112 fatalities and 7,072 to 8,374 injuries annually. While it took too long for federal regulators to implement the law, it wouldn't have happened without the persistence of families who came to Washington, D.C., to ask us to address this problem.
KidsAndCars.org, Public Citizen, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety and Consumers Union also helped get this law across the finish line. KidsAndCars.org produced data that showed that an average 50 children are backed over by vehicles weekly. Consumers Union used their auto test site to prove that there are enormous blind zones behind vehicles.
DOT gave the new rule a green light earlier this month, and by 2018 all cars will have to meet rearward visibility standards, almost certainly with a rear camera installed. Children and families will be far safer with these standards in place. This rule is an important step in the right direction -- there's no doubt that it will save lives. Stories and photos of children who've died in backovers are shown at www.kidsandcars.org/back-overs.html
U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky
National Consumers League