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New Backup Camera Rule: Cameras Will Be Mandatory by 2018

  • All new cars will include backup cameras by May 2018
  • Backup cameras designed to prevent potentially deadly backover accidents
  • Addition of cameras likely to add $40 to $140 to the price of a new car

All new cars must include a backup camera by May 2018. That’s the latest from the federal government’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which recently announced the finalized regulation on backup cameras after years of back-and-forth.

According to NHTSA, standard backup cameras will go a long way toward preventing injury and death, especially among children. Roughly 200 people are killed each year and another 14,000 are injured in so-called backover accidents, when drivers reverse over another person without noticing him or her. The vast majority of the victims are children, largely because their small size makes them hard to see from the driver’s seat.

Regulations for better rearward visibility have been under consideration for years. In 2007, Congress signed the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act into law, requiring NHTSA to set rear-visibility standards by 2011, but the agency delayed creating the standards for various reasons, in part because of governmental resistance and in part because the organization wanted to make sure that a precise rule could be written.

Now that the rule is written, it mandates that all vehicles under 10,000 pounds include a backup camera by May 2018. It also says that cameras must show a 10-foot-by-20-foot zone behind the vehicle, which most modern backup cameras will have no trouble complying with.

Interestingly, backup cameras were beginning to reach widespread acceptance even without NHTSA’s mandate. According to the agency, they’re included on around half of all new cars sold today, and data suggests that nearly three-quarters of vehicles will have them by 2018, even with no requirement.

Despite the increasing popularity of cameras, NHTSA says that the mandate will add to the cost of building cars, and that higher cost will likely be passed on to consumers. The agency estimates that its mandate will add around $40 to the price of new vehicles that already include a center display and around $140 to the price of cars that don’t. Nonetheless, many believe that this amount is a small price to pay considering the potential benefits that should come from standard backup cameras.

What it means to you: Although NHTSA’s mandate doesn’t go into effect until 2018, expect many newly released or redesigned cars to add backup cameras earlier than that.

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25 COMMENTS

  1. The amazing thing we have is a neck and 2 eyes and the camera cannot replace it. Our heads need to be on a swivel when backing up and this backup camera is only going to raise a generation of drivers who just will NEVER look!!! They wear seatbelts to stop the dinging seat …..not cuz they want to live. Other countries aren’t as lazy as Americans, they actually look around like a pilot!!!! I hate backup cameras. They turn my radio down and I NEVER use them. 

  2. Is it okay to use a backup camera on the behind the wheel test. I feel like they failed me for no proper reason. Has anyone else had a bad experience with the DMV in california where you’ve felt targeted. Thank you all. 

  3. Is it okay to use a backup camera on the behind the wheel test. I feel like they failed me for no proper reason. Has anyone else had a bad experience with the DMV in california where you’ve felt targeted. Thank you all. 

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Doug Demuro
Doug DeMuro writes articles and makes videos, mainly about cars. Doug was born in Denver, Colorado, and received an economics degree from Emory University in Atlanta. After graduation, Doug spent three years working for Porsche Cars North America. Eventually, he quit his job to become a writer, largely because it meant that he no longer had to wear pants. Doug’s work has been featured in a multitude of magazine publications and websites, including here at Autotrader — where he launched the Oversteer enthusiast blog — along with Jalopnik, GQ, and The Week. His YouTube channel has hundreds of published videos and has racked up hundreds of millions of views. Today, Doug lives in San Diego, California, with his 1997 Land Rover Defender 90 NAS, 2005 Ford GT, and 2012 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG Wagon.

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