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LI death leads to proposal for blind-zone law

Cameron Gulbransen, in family photo, died back-up accident

Cameron Gulbransen, in family photo, died back-up accident in October 2002. (Undated) (Credit: Handout)

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has released a proposal, spurred by the death of a Woodbury boy, that would require all new cars starting in 2014 to have rearview cameras and interior displays to allow  "a 180-degree view" of the area around a car.

The proposal would expand the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act, signed into law by President George W. Bush in February 2008. The Act was named for  2-year-old Cameron Gulbransen of Woodbury, who was hit and killed in 2002 as his father moved a family car in the driveway of their home.

In the new proposal, the NHTSA said cameras were the only way to comply with a mandate in the act to improve the ability of drivers to see behind them.

"It appears that, in the near term, the only technology available with the ability to comply with this proposal would be a rear visibility system that includes a rear-mounted video camera and an in-vehicle visual display," the NHTSA said.

The proposal "would expand the required field of view for all passenger cars, pickup trucks, minivans, buses and low-speed vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of up to 10,000 pounds so that drivers can see directly behind the vehicle when the vehicle's transmission is in reverse," NHTSA said in a statement.

The NHTSA estimates that, on average, 292 fatalities and 18,000 injuries occur each year because of drivers backing over people, and children and the elderly are particularly at risk.

"There is no more tragic accident than for a parent or caregiver to back out of a garage or driveway and kill or injure an undetected child playing behind the vehicle," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement. "The changes we are proposing today will help drivers see into those blind zones directly behind vehicles to make sure it is safe to back up."

The new safety standard will likely add to the overall of  manufacturers' recommended price of new vehicles.

Today, those built-in cameras can run to as much as $2,000 when it's part of a built-in navigation system. Autoblog says “even if the systems aren't that expensive for automakers to install, they're likely to have a disproportionate impact on the MSRPs of inexpensive models.”

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