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Concerned parents hit DOT with lawsuit over backup cameras

It's a tragic scenario that plays out with startling regularity here in the United States: A parent gets into the family vehicle and puts the car in reverse to back out of the garage. Even though they are looking over their shoulder while backing out, they feel a sudden bump and eventually learn that they have accidentally backed over their child.

According to a 2010 report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, as many as 228 people are killed in the United States every year in these backup accidents, with 44 percent of these fatalities comprised of children under the age of five.

While both domestic and foreign automakers have developed backup camera systems -- which project a real-time image of the area behind the vehicle onto a dash-mounted screen -- this equipment has curiously not yet become standard safety equipment on all new cars sold here in the United States.

What makes this all the more curious is that Congress passed a law in 2007 that effectively ordered the U.S. Department of Transportation to draft a final rule by 2011 mandating that all new cars must have either backup cameras or backup warning systems. However, 2011 has come and gone with nothing more than delays and no regulation of which to speak.

In fact, safety advocates point out that if the DOT had followed had followed the timeframe originally established by Congress, all new 2014 cars and SUVs would be equipped with backup warning devices or, more likely, backup cameras.

For its part, the DOT has told Congress that a final rule on backup warning systems will be in place by 2015. However, several lawmakers are not entirely pleased with this projection, including Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), who called the DOT's delay "outrageous and unacceptable."

It appears that Sen. Blumenthal is not the only one outraged by the delay, as an alliance of safety advocates and parents filed a lawsuit against the Obama Administration in the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York just this week in attempt to hasten the rulemaking process.

"It's way long overdue," said one man who suffered severe spinal injuries as a child in a backup accident. "Every day that it's not in place, another two kids get hit."

Stay tuned for updates on this very important story ...

Those who have been injured in car accidents caused by negligent drivers here in New Jersey should understand that they can seek the justice they deserve and that they should strongly consider speaking with an experienced attorney.

Source: USA Today, "Administration sued over backup camera delay," Fred Meier and Chris Woodyard, September 26, 2013

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