Battle Over Rear-View Cameras in Cars Heats Up

PHOTO: Safety advocates are suing the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, saying it is dragging its feet and ignoring Congress by failing to pass a rule requiring rear view cameras.
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On the same day a lawsuit is being filed by safety advocates demanding federal action on rules to require rear-view cameras in new cars, the government today announced it will make the cameras a "recommended feature" in new vehicles.

Safety advocates are saying that they are fed up with delays by the Obama administration to implement a 2008 law to have a hard rule in place on rear-view cameras in cars by 2011.

"Adding this as a recommendation simply just underscores it's an option for a car," safety advocate Susan Auriemma told ABC News.

In 2005, Auriemma's then 3-year-old daughter darted behind her backing up car. With young Kate screaming after being run over, her mother was beside herself over what she had done.

"Her face was covered in blood, her clothes were torn from the impact and she was screaming, asking me why I had hit her with the car," Auriemma said.

On average every year there are 210 deaths from similar circumstances -- mostly 1- and 2-year-old children. On top of that, there are 15,000 injuries each year from similar accidents.

Auriemma's daughter Kate survived, and is now 11. But she and another parents, along with three organizations, are suing the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, saying it is dragging its feet and ignoring Congress by failing to pass a rule for these back-up cameras.

The auto industry says more than half of new cars have some back-up detection system, and says consumers, not the government, should decide whether cameras come with cars.

Along with the cameras, in-car systems beep when you are getting too close to an object, and some have automatic braking systems which stop the car without the driver hitting the brakes. But rather than a recommendation, this lawsuit is demanding a rule.

Requiring the cameras would add between $58 and $203 to the vehicle's price, Reuters reported.

The lawsuit against the DOT was brought by Public Citizen and a group that includes Greg Gulbransen, who lobbied for a change to DOT standards after he accidentally backed into his son Cameron, killing him. Auriemma, Consumers Union of the United States, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, and Kids And Cars, Inc., are all also represented in the action by Public Citizen.

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