There's been yet another delay in issuing new rules that would require backup cameras in all cars and trucks by 2014. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood had said the standards would be published today but now says it's not likely to happen until Dec. 31.
If it really takes that long, 2014 models will already be in the pipeline, meaning that cameras won't appear in all cars until 2015 -- at the earliest.
Congress passed legislation in 2008 requiring LaHood's department to set rules for backup sensors or camereas no later than Feb. 28, 2011. Now, a year after that deadline, LaHood says he needs more time, citing "the complexity and volume of issues identified in the public comments on our proposed rule."
What's so complicated? There's no official explanation but some reports have suggested that the sticking point is the "boot-up" time -- the time that elapses between the moment the driver shifts into reverse and the image appears on the screen.
Regulators are said to be pushing for one second, while carmakers say three seconds is more realistic.
The Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act of 2007 was passed by Congress after a 2-year-old who was killed when he was inadvertently backed over by an SUV. Parents, consumer and safety groups praised the bill as an important child auto safety measure at the time it was passed and have been pressing for its implementation ever since.
"Backover" accidents are thought to kill about 300 people and injure thousand each year. Many of the victims are children and, in many cases, the drivers are the parents or other close relatives.
No one knows the exact number because the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) -- part of LaHood's department -- only tracks accidents on vehicles that are in motion on public roads, not in driveways or parking lots.
The cameras are expected to cost between $160 and $200 per vehicle and, if the usual pattern prevails, manufacturers and dealers will claim that the resulting higher car prices will hurt sales.