VW’s Routan van has a rearview camera

The US government is proposing mandatory backup cameras for bigger vehicles.

The new safety regulation follows the 2007 so-called “Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act,” which resulted from the death of a child that was killed when his father accidentally backed over him in his driveway.

"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,” said US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

The proposal, issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), would expand the required field of view for all passenger cars, pickup trucks, minivans, buses and low-speed vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of up to 10,000 pounds.

The NHTSA said it considered other ways a driver could monitor what is behind his car. The agency acknowledged that better mirrors or sensors would be a less costly alternative, but it said that, using today’s technology, rear-mounted cameras coupled with an in-vehicle display were the most effective solution.

The NHTSA believes carmakers will install such technology to meet the proposed standards. To meet the requirements of the proposed rule, 10 percent of new vehicles must comply by Sept. 2012, 40 percent by Sept. 2013 and 100 percent by Sept. 2014.

The US government agency estimates that, on average, 292 fatalities and 18,000 injuries occur each year as a result of back-over crashes involving all vehicles. Of these, 228 fatalities involve light vehicles weighing 10,000 pounds or less.

The NHTSA is providing a 60-day comment period on this rulemaking that begins when the proposal is published in the US Federal Register.

More information on the proposal can be found here.