For several years now, new vehicles have been required to have rear-view cameras — a safety feature designed to prevent cars and trucks from backing up over children.
But most vehicles on the road today don’t have comparable camera systems to check for objects and people in the front. And as trucks and SUVs have gotten bigger — limiting the driver’s view directly in front of the vehicle — the problem has only gotten worse, NBC news reported Monday.
An estimated 744 children were killed from 2016 to 2020, mostly in driveways and parking lots, the network reported after analyzing federal vehicle accident data. In 2015, 366 deaths resulted from vehicles moving forward in driveways and parking lots, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
An NBC demonstration, in conjunction with the Consumer Reports organization, found that SUV drivers could not see several seated children in the “dead zone” in front of the vehicle. Local NBC TV news affiliates in Dallas and Washington, DC, reported the issue in September.
U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., told the news outlets that he plans to introduce a bill in Congress that would require front cameras or sensors for all new vehicles to help prevent what is known. as “frontover” accidents. If the measure is signed into law, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration should draft a new standard mandating the systems.
But NBC pointed out that even if they get hired, it could be years before the cameras become commonplace. After rear-view cameras were required by law in 2008, it took more than a decade for the rule to go into effect, and it could be many more years before older cars on the road are replaced by newer vehicles with the systems.
The report noted that some luxury cars have already installed front cameras. NBC has not investigated the number of vehicles with driver assistance systems designed to automatically brake when an object or pedestrian is detected in front of the car, or if those systems detect low-lying objects or children directly in front of the vehicle.
A February 2022 report from Consumer Reports and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said that while most 2021 and later vehicles have pedestrian detection systems, those systems are less effective at night or when the car is speeding.