Department of Transportation new rules will make cars more expensive

Thought that new car was expensive now? Wait till the Department of Transportation implements its latest plan to protect Americans from themselves.

Last week, the department announced regulations that would require all new vehicles to install video cameras on their back bumpers. The idea is to make backing up safer, and it’s not optional. “To meet the requirements of the proposed rule,” reads a DOT release, “10 percent of new vehicles must comply by Sept. 2012, 40 percent by Sept. 2013 and 100 percent by Sept. 2014.”

Three years ago, Congress passed the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act, named after a Connecticut toddler whose father backed over him in the driveway. Video cameras are one consequence of the law. According to a spokesman for Ford, the cameras will cost consumers up to $400 apiece. The total cost of equipping the country’s vehicles could reach $2.7 billion.

Horrible and newsworthy exceptions notwithstanding, relatively few Americans are killed by vehicles moving in reverse. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, there are about 292 deaths per year as a result of back-over accidents, 228 of which involve non-commercial vehicles.

By comparison, in 2007 nearly three times as many infants died of accidental suffocation in bed. Accidental drowning deaths amounted to more than 3,400. Well over 1,000 Americans died from falling down stairs. In a dangerous world, getting backed over by a car barely rates.

Yet, as Peter Van Doren of the libertarian Cato Institute points out, the Department of Transportation didn’t have much choice but to act. “The low-hanging fruit of auto safety were picked off years ago, so now we’re into diminishing, high-hanging fruit where the cost per life saved is $12 to $20 million dollars rather than $5 or $6 million,” he says. “If you’re a politician do you win votes by telling people that the problems they bring to you are their fault?”

  • chuck in st paul

    Much like the passenger killing airbags, this will do little or nothing for the high costs of doing it. A much cheaper alternative is to look behind the vehicle…. duh! Second choice would be to equipment the cars with those sonic range finders on the rear bumper like my Town Car has. They’re really cool and can’t possibly cost anywhere near this camera idiocy.

    However… before we even discuss this, like jfwootten, I’d like to see a list of death causes related to vehicles and the number of deaths involved in each instance. Then I’d like to see the cost to releave each of these. I’ll take a wild stab here and say there’s at least a half dozen cheaper items that’ll save more lives. But then, that’s just me…

    • chuck in st paul

      [ geez I need to start using the spell checker…]

      to equipment –> to equip
      releave –> relieve

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tom-Anderson/519521268 Tom Anderson

    If someone won’t look over their shoulder to see if anyone is behind the car, why would we assume that they would look at a video screen? Next, your car won’t start if anything is too close to the rear bumper.

  • snappercat

    I’m sure that increasing the cost of a car will do wonders for GM and Chrysler.

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  • Hose A

    Can I use it to watch porn when not backing?

    • krjohnson

      Good point, there might be an increase in distracted driving.

  • krjohnson

    The statistical value of a life is a little under $2 million. We’re overpaying by about 5x, and that’s assuming that all of these backing over deaths will be prevented with the cameras which I sincerely doubt.

  • jfwootten

    Why won’t the DOT outlaw all “free range” deer? I’ll bet they kill more Americans by a hundredfold than are killed by people backing over their kids. More Nanny State. Also, please outlaw marbles, open windows, sharp knives, drain cleaner, and anything else a kid could die from. ARGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!

    • zashby

      and banana peels

  • brian61

    I remember reading about this is Article 1, Section 8A of the US Constitution. Something about “Congress can do anything it wants to under the guise of public safety.”

  • thephranc

    Buy used.