For reals! Did you even know that some cars had these? It's essentially a camera whose image is displayed within the vehicle, allowing drivers to see everywhere their car would normally impair, namely, right behind, where kids most often are right before their parent backs over them. The USA Transportation Department has now proposed requirements of cars that they improve rear visibility to such a degree that these accidents would no longer occur, most cars being able to meet these requirements by adding a rear-mounted video camera with in-vehicle displays.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides data which suggests that nearly 300 people are killed and 18,000 injured each year (I presume in the USA alone), nearly half of the deaths involving children 5 and under. Cameras such as the ones I'm sure many cars will begin installing soon have already been installed in around 20% of newly released 2010 cars (so says AP), while this new proposal, expected to be complete by next year (after a public comment period) will roll out requirements throughout the next few years.
The vehicle fleet produced by the USA will have to be 10 percent at standard by their 2012 model year, 40% by 2013, and by 2014, all new cars will need to reach new visibility standards. These new rules are going to apply to all passenger cars, pickup trucks, SUVs, and every other vehicle weighing up to 10,000 pounds. No more dead puppies!
The image you see above is of a rear-mounted camera from Sanyo as posted by UberGizmo. This is one you buy and install, in the future we're looking at similar situations coming in standard.
[Via The Associated Press]