New Backup Camera Regulations (And Why They Matter)

As you may be aware, recent regulation changes have made backup cameras a mandatory safety measure, and all new cars sold after May of 2018 must include them. Naturally, as an automobile owner, you may be wondering about how it will impact your life on the road. To understand why this is such an important change and how it can save lives and improve safety in general, it is important to know what inspired this new regulation.

The Fight for Mandatory Backup Cameras

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a press release on March 31, 2014, declaring that backup cameras would have to be standard issue in all new vehicles sold after May 2018 that weigh under 10,000 pounds.

Despite this regulation change being relatively recent, the discussion on mandatory rear view systems had been going on for years, fueled by safety concerns and personal loss alike. A chief proponent of this regulation change, pediatrician Dr. Greg Gulbransen, witnessed firsthand how lack of sight can lead to tragedy. In 2002, when backing his car into his home’s driveway, he accidentally ran over his two-year old son, Cameron, causing fatal injuries.

After this devastating accident, the grieving father said, “I never had a chance of seeing Cameron because he was too small—too small for the large blind zones that are built into the design of our vehicles.” With a camera to monitor the car’s blind spot, Gulbransen believes he would have been able to avoid losing his son.

The 2007 Cameron Gulbransen Kids and Cars Safety Act, named in honor of Gulbransen’s son, was focused on having the NHTSA pass regulation requiring mandatory backup cameras after 2014. Despite success in passing the measure, there were several delays in enactment. After four separate, agonizing delays (Dec. 31, 2011; Feb. 29, 2012; Dec. 31, 2012; and Jan. 2, 2014), the bill was finally approved on March 31, 2014.

What the Rules Say

The basics of the ruling state that all automobiles made and sold after May 1, 2018, have to have rear-visibility technology included. Manufacturers started introducing these changes in May 2016. While it is understood that backup cameras are not the only the technical solution to minimizing injuries or fatalities, cameras are by far the best way to monitor a 10-by-20-foot visible zone behind the automobile.

It is important to note that these requirements are specified for new cars, not older models or used automobiles made before the regulation date. It is still advisable to have a backup camera installed to take advantage of the increased safety they provide.

If you are buying a new car, the new regulation has a minor impact on automobile price. Cars that already have suitable viewing screens will only see an increase of $43 to $45, while those needing an added display will see an increase of $132 to $142 overall. As a car buyer, the only real change you will see is backup cameras becoming standard equipment.

Why This Is Important

Mandating rear-view systems will save lives. In the United States, accident reports reveal a horrifying figure: 50 children are struck over by automobiles every week. Most of these victims are very young (between 12 and 23 months old), just learning to walk, and don’t understand how dangerous automobiles can be. The majority of these accidents occur where parents believe children are safe, at home.

Based on information from the United States DOT (Department of Transportation), we also know 40 percent of these victims are related to the car’s driver. Children are not the only casualties of such accidents, but young children and the elderly are the groups at greatest risk.

Such accidents are not necessarily due to lack of driver awareness or skill. Every automobile, from small sub compacts to large SUVs, has a blind spot that mirrors miss. Even when paying complete attention to side mirrors, it is entirely possible not to see someone standing directly behind your car—a frightening thought.

A backup camera removes the danger this blind spot creates. The NHTSA estimates that between 58 and 69 lives will be saved every year once all automobiles on the road have rear-view systems, which, according to estimates, should be by the year 2054.

Backup cameras prevent tragic accidents by saving lives and adding to overall safety around automobiles. Even if you’re not in the market for a new vehicle, you will still benefit from the increased awareness these changes provide. Despite it not being a legal requirement, installing a backup camera in your current automobile is highly recommended. Backup cameras are very affordable, with a wide selection of types, sizes, and features to fit your needs and keep you and those around you safe.

Remember, you don’t have to wait for federal regulation changes to promote safety and save lives.

Author Bio:

Chris Triplett is the owner of Camera Source, a leading provider of backup cameras and backup camera accessories. Visit them online at

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3 Responses to “New Backup Camera Regulations (And Why They Matter)”

  1. Jason says:

    Sadly, the delay in implementing this change coupled with the speed of advances in technology has resulted in innovative automotobile companies being handcuffed to using outdated technology. Witness 360 degree car monitoring video, which is a huge leap forward on blind spot monitoring: it apparantly does not meet the requirements of the rule and cannot be set as a default rearview camera option.

    I fully support regulations designed to enhance the safety of the community. But our politicians have to be smart about defining rules and get out of the way of positive progress.

  2. Irene E RADNER says:

    When taking driver’s license driving Test, Can the driver use the backup camera when being tested for backup? I have been told by DMV staff yes and no. which is it?

    • It all depends on which state you live in and if the DMV allows the use of backup cameras. I would err though on the side that you need to know how back up your vehicle without cams anyways. Learn to use both.