Rearview camera law – is it worth the cost?
Two months ago the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) made a proposal for mandatory installation of rearview cameras in all 2014 passenger vehicles. Passing this law would be another landmark in vehicle safety control, and would one day be a safety feature as familiar as the seat belt or air bag. It is interesting to think that rearview cameras have always been thought of as a luxury feature, and should now be considered commonplace according to lawmakers.
The main question is how much safety this feature produces, and if it is worth the cost to automakers that consumers ultimately incur.
Earlier this month a 3-year-old boy was accidentally run over as his older brother was backing out of the driveway. This story is part of a bigger picture, as nearly 1,000 people have died as a result of back-over accidents since 2008. The NHTSA estimates that 221 deaths and 14,000 injuries result per year in the U.S. due to such accidents (article).
The cost to add a camera and screen to a vehicle is roughly $200. This amount would ultimately be factored into the price the consumer pays when a car is purchased.
Essentially this is a tax on the consumer to benefit public welfare. Such policies are often debated, as many individuals would argue that we should leave it up to the carmakers to decide on the features they provide.
On the other hand, a rearview camera is a plausible solution that could reduce the number of deaths and injuries that result from back-over accidents. Moreover, $200 is not a significant amount when purchasing a new car, and that cost could likely decrease as the market find less expensive solutions to manufacturing and installing the components.
When human safety is involved, short-term sacrifices can often yield long-term benefits. The value of a life could certainly offset the cost of a rearview camera.
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