Mandatory Back-Up Camera Increases Cost by $200 – Good or Bad?

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An update to a story we ran 2 years ago is that it’s looking more and more likely that rear view cameras will become mandatory equipment in all new 2014 vehicles by the end of the 2012. At a cost increase of $200 per vehicle, is it a necessary safety feature or another case of mandatory equipment pushing car prices higher and higher?

Mandatory Back-Up Camera Increases Cost

Back-up cameras will become mandatory in all new vehicles. Is this a good safety decision or another burden on car buyers?

In 2007, Congress passed legislation that required the government to set rear visibility standards by February 2011. At the time, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood pushed back that time frame. In February of 2012, LaHood set a new deadline of Dec. 31. The Detroit News is reporting that LaHood will meet with White House officials in an effort to finalize the requirement before his deadline.

According to the Detroit News:

Backovers kill about 300 people annually and injure 16,000. About one-third of fatalities involve children age 5 or younger and “there are strong reasons … to prevent these deaths,” NHTSA said in announcing proposed rules. Another third involve people 70 and older.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has previously agrued that back-up cameras are worth the cost (passed on to consumers), although drivers are still ultimately responsible for their driving habits. The financial cost of adding cameras  will cost the automobile industry a staggering number $1.9 to $2.7 billion annually, according to NHTSA. However, when you break that down per vehicle sold in the U.S., the cost is more manageable at $200 per.

As we argued in Dec. 2010 post, new safety regulations have a bit of a checkered history among car buyers and automakers. While several innovations are now seen as no-brainers (i.e., seat belts, air bags, etc…), there is a long standing argument that skyrocketing new car prices aren’t worth the required safety equipment. The nickle-and-dime approach to adding safety equipment adds up in the long run and many people feel like consumers are paying too much of the burden for the variety of safety and air quality equipment.

In the end, it seems that many consumers feel powerless to accept these new standards and pay the additional cost. Yet, the Alliance of Automobile Manufactures has urged NHTSA to talk about the costs and conduct additional studies.

The auto alliance is trying to change NHTSA’s mind by breaking down the cost in a different way. It has a presentation which according to the Detroit News, says the “cost of the regulation per life saved is $11 million, compared to $9.8 million per life saved under roof strength regulations and under $4 million for side impact regulations.” The argument is tough because you are essentially asking people to say how valuable a person’s life is.

What do you think of mandatory back-up cameras? Is there other equipment you would like to see standard? Or is this just another unnecessary intrusion by big brother?

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  1. Hellamatic says:

    This trend of government-mandated safety equipment is getting out of hand. Seatbelts, crumple zones, airbags…all great ideas that legitimately save lives. Now that we’re starting to get into mandated stability control systems, TPMS sensors, and backup cameras, I have to wonder how economical these fixes are compared to devoting extra funding to driver education. Maybe increased focus on extracurricular training programs, or possibly even mandatory driver’s ed classes, would be effective in ensuring drivers are more competent and capable of handling a vehicle before getting a license.

    Another angle to look at this: these extra costs for safety systems are based on American legislation – because the US is such a large car market, automakers build a product that conforms to American law. Bottom line – as a Canadian, I am effectively paying extra for equipment mandated by a foreign government.

  2. Mickey says:

    Like Tim never thought of it that way Hellamatic. I know most people don’t but I have my wife doing this also. How about backing into your space first! That way when you leave you just pull out. I do it all the time. When at the mall or grocery shopping pull all the way in so when you leave you just pull out. I learned this from an advanced driving school when I became an instructor where I worked at. Your view backing out is restricted while pulling out you have a complete view. As most of my pic of my truck in the driveway you see that I back in. Having a rear view camera helps tremendously. For the price of $200 or less it’s worth it. Safety is paramount. You would hate yourself if you voted against this and a mishap happens to you. I bought mine off Ebay which was cheaper than what Toyota wanted. To me it’s worth the cost, because now I can just backup to the boat one time and drop the hitch on the ball everytime.

  3. mk says:

    garbage not needed and should not be mandatory. Yah, it may be nice backing up the trailer/boat to hook up, but shouldn’t be mandatory. The backup camera in rearview mirror came standard in the SR5 pkg. on my 2012 DC tundra, but don’t really need it or use it. I had a rental new 2012 highlander with touch screen climate, etc. controls all push button and I absolutely hated using them takes to long to push the right area to change channels on the radio and certainly takes my eyes off the road longer which detracts from safety. My neighbor has the ford flex and has the sync system and is total garbage I would NEVER ever buy a vehicle equipped like that. However, that is the next thing auto mfgs. are going to which is NOT right and it is a driving vehicle, not an apple ipad for god sakes. Give me a knob/button to push/turn anyday over a touch screen, totally hate it.

  4. It is advisable to have back up cameras even if it is quite pricey. There are so many advantages for this type of add on and it is very useful for drivers.

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