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NHTSA Finalizes New Rule to Reduce Backing Accidents

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Hoping to address the alarming frequency of backing accidents, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently finalized a rule to improve rear-view visibility in new cars.

Backing accidents unnecessarily take hundreds of lives each year. Those demographics most vulnerable to being hit by a backing car are senior citizens and children under five years of age.

In February 2014, an 18-month-old Waxhaw, North Carolina girl was killed when her father backed over her in their driveway. When the father got into his car, his daughter was near the swing set. But by the time he backed out, she had moved behind his vehicle where he was unable to see her.

The new federal rule is named for a two-year-old boy whose father similarly backed over him, killing him instantly. As part of the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act of 2007, the NHTSA recently enacted the following regulations:

  • All vehicles under 10,000 pounds that are manufactured by or after May 1, 2018 must have improved rear-view technology.
  • The technology must include a clear view of the area 10 feet by 20 feet directly behind the vehicle.
  • While the car may have sensors that sound when objects behind the vehicle are detected, the new rule requires that motorists can visually see and check the areas behind their cars prior to backing.

Noting the pain and grief that result from fatal backing accidents, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said, "As a father, I can only imagine how heart wrenching these types of accidents can be for families, but we hope that today's rule will serve as a significant step toward reducing these tragic accidents."

With implementation of the new rule, the NHTSA hopes to eliminate or reduce the more than 15,000 injuries and 200 deaths that occur every year when vehicles are backing up. Consult an attorney for legal advice if you or a loved one suffered injury in a backing accident or other type of auto collision in North Carolina.

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