Lawmakers are putting the finishing touches on a law that requires that all new passenger vehicles have backup cameras by 2014. Kidsandcars.org claims that two children are killed and 50 injured per week. Regulators say that between 95 and 115 deaths and over 8,300 injuries per year could be avoided with the backup cameras. Government statistics indicate that nearly 225 people die per year and 17,000 are injured by being backed over.
Some cars have much larger blind spots than others for backing up. SUVs and some mini vans have fairly large spaces behind them that are covered by the rear hatch. The Cadillac CTS-V sedan, with it's tall trunk, has a blind spot that extends over 100 feet behind the car.
Currently in the U.S., about 45% of cars offer backup cameras as an option. Originally, they were usually part of a $2000+ navigation package, but since the legislation was started, more and more manufacturers offer it as an option by itself for a couple of hundred dollars. The expected cost of the mandated cameras will be between $160-200, costing the industry some $2.7 billion a year, and you can expect that cost to be passed on to the consumer.
More safety is a good thing, not just to keep from running someone over, but also to keep you from backing over kids' bikes and into low planters and other obstacles.
Other mandated safety features in the past couple of decades include airbags and the "Liddy Light", the center high-mount safety light named for Elizabeth "Liddy" Dole who made it a standard when she was Secretary of Transportation in the 1980s.
To read more about this, check out Nick Bunkley's article in the New York Times