Beep beep: back-up cameras will soon be mandatory in US cars

Safety first

back up rear view camera car

Rear-view mirrors? That's so 2017. A new US rule will require all vehicles to have back-up cameras by 2018.

The US Department of Transportation's National Highway Safety Transportation Agency (try typing that on your phone while you're driving) has determined that the safety of US citizens depends on our being able to stare at our dashboards while reversing.

Any street-legal vehicle under 10,000 pounds and built after May 1, 2018 will need to have the feature, the agency says.

The cameras will need to show a 130 degree area 10 feet wide and 20 feet deep behind a vehicle, and the image will need to remain on drivers' screens for no more than eight but no less then four seconds after they've shifted out of reverse.

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Rear-view cameras watch behind your car and send a video feed to a screen in your dashboard, often with helpful data like distance to obstacles and vehicles trajectory overlaid on top.

They've been optional up to now, but the Department of Transportation has for years been considering more specific rules governing their inclusion in vehicles.

The NHSTA says around 210 deaths and 15,000 injuries result from back-up accidents every year, and 31% percent of those deaths reportedly are children under five years old.

No doubt Americans' love of big trucks and SUVs is a contributing factor here, and the rear-view camera mandate should help.

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