U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray Lahood updated congressional committees on the proposed ruling to mandate the installation of rear-view cameras on late-model vehicles in a letter Feb. 29, saying the Department of Transportation (DOT) had decided to delay making a final ruling until the end of the 2012 calendar year.

"Safety is the number one priority at the Department of Transportation, and we give especially high priority to the safety of children,” the DOT said in a statement. “While the Department has made progress toward a final rule to improve rearward visibility, it has decided that further study and data analysis, including of a wider range of vehicles and drivers, is important to ensure the most protective and efficient rule possible. The Department remains committed to improving rearview visibility for the nation's fleet and we expect to complete our work and issue a final rule by December 31, 2012."

The original DOT proposal would mandate that automakers install back-up cameras in new vehicles via a gradual rollout. The proposed rule would require 10% of new vehicles to come out of the factory equipped with rear-view cameras by September 2012; 40% by September 2013; and 100% by September 2014.

Although the DOT is delaying the final ruling, the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act of 2007 requires a final ruling is made no later than 36 months after the date of the Act's enactment, which occurred on Feb. 28, 2011.

To illustrate the severity of the problem, NHTSA’s research estimates that backover crashes for all vehicle types cause 183 fatalities annually, In addition, these accidents cause between 6,700 and 7,419 injuries per year, though a number of those injuries are minor.

By Greg Basich