Federal agency issues long-delayed life-saving standard to require rear visibility for cars and SUVs – National Consumers League

March 31, 2014

Contact: NCL Executive Director, Sally Greenberg 202-835-3323,  sallyg@nclnet.org

Washington, DC – On the eve of a federal court hearing on the topic, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) issued a long-delayed auto safety standard to improve vehicles’ rear visibility and prevent deaths that occur when drivers back over pedestrians. In a 2008 law named after Cameron Gulbransen, a toddler backed over and killed at age 2, Congress directed DOT to issue a rear visibility standard by 2011. The Obama Administration delayed the deadline numerous times, finally issuing today’s rule after a coalition of safety advocates, including Cameron’s father, sued DOT. The National Consumers League, the nation’s pioneering consumer advocacy organization, is grateful that the agency issued the long overdue new standard. This announcement came one day before a federal appeals court was set to hear arguments on whether to order DOT to issue the rule.

“It’s inexcusable that it took so long, but finally having this rule in place is a huge milestone for auto safety,” said Sally Greenberg, Executive Director of the National Consumers League. Before coming to NCL, Greenberg served as Product Safety Counsel for Consumers Union and worked alongside Janette Fennell of Kids and Cars and with families from across the country to bring this issue to the attention of members of Congress in 2000-2001. “Today is a day to celebrate; children’s lives will be saved by this rule.” 

Each year, according to DOT, more than 200 individuals are killed and 15,000 injured in “back over” crashes. Drivers using all three mirrors cannot see anything in a blind zone 10-40 feet long directly behind their vehicles. Over half of those killed in back over accidents are children under 5 or adults 70 or older, DOT’s analysis shows. The new rule will set a standard for rear visibility that effectively requires rearview cameras in new vehicles under 10,000 pounds (excluding motorcycles) by 2018.

On four separate occasions from 2011 to 2013, the administration told Congress that it was delaying the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act. In November 2011, DOT sent a draft final rule to the White House Office of Management and Budget, where it languished for nineteen months before being withdrawn in June 2013. After DOT announced that it intended to complete the rule by January 2015, taking twice as long as Congress had directed, safety advocates and two parents who hit their children because they couldn’t see them in the vehicle’s blind zone sued DOT. The lawsuit asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit to order the agency to issue the rule promptly. The federal court was to hear the case on April 1, 2014.

The lawsuit was filed by Public Citizen on behalf of Dr. Greg Gulbransen, Susan Auriemma, Consumers Union of the United States, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, and Kids And Cars, Inc. Gulbransen, of Syosset, N.Y., backed over his 2-year-old son Cameron in his driveway in 2002; Auriemma, of Manhasset, N.Y., backed over her 3-year-old daughter Kate in her driveway in 2005, injuring her.



About the National Consumers League 

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Its mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.