Feds delay regulations to improve pedestrian safety–again

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Hopefully drivers in and around the Columbia, Missouri, area are aware of the blind spots associated with a vehicle. We are trained to use rear-view mirrors, and to look over our shoulders when merging in traffic. A rear-view mirror generally has a blind spot (or more). Road safety officials say that blind spots on vehicles when a car is backing up results in a safety hazard for people who may be in the area around a backing-up vehicle.

Authorities say that about 228 people are killed each year and 17,000 more are injured in accidents involving a backing-up car. Many of these kinds of pedestrian accidents occur at the end of a driveway. Young children and the elderly are statistically more vulnerable to these kinds of accidents. In fact, federal officials say that about half of the fatalities in these kinds of incidents involve young children.

In 2008, Congress passed a law requiring that new regulations be written by 2011 to increase safety for cars (and actually for pedestrians near a car) while a driver is backing up in a low speed situation, such as in a driveway or parking lot.

Those regulations were delayed in the past, and the Associated Press reports that the deadline has now been extended once again. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood reportedly sent several letters to congressional leaders saying that more research is needed before the regulations can be finalized.

What officials are seeking are regulations to require back-up cameras in all vehicles to reduce the risk of these types of accidents. The car companies say that the requirement across the board would be too costly. Federal safety officials reportedly have extended the deadline for the safety regulations to January 2015.

Drivers have a duty (as do pedestrians) to be aware of their surroundings. When a driver is negligent in striking a pedestrian, whether while backing up or in any kind of situation, the accident victim may be entitled to recover for his or her injuries.

Source: The Kansas City Star, “Gov’t delays requiring rearview cameras in cars,” Joan Lowy–The Associated Press, June 20, 2013

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