Reversing cameras will be a standard-fit feature on cars in the US from mid-2018, with the NHTSA deciding that the potential safety benefits from an eye in the bumper warrants the demand. Cameras piping a live feed from the back of the car to the dashboard are common on luxury models and SUVs, but new rear visibility requirement will mean that all models built from May 1st, 2018, will have to sport them, no matter how small or how cheap.
The rule will apply to all vehicles under 10,000 pounds - including trucks and buses - that are manufactured on or after the beginning of May in four years time.
However, there are also requirements as to what sort of view that camera will give. A 10 x 20 foot zone directly behind the vehicle must be covered; the NHTSA is also setting minimum standards for how large different sized test objects are to the user, though isn't mandating how big the display itself will be.
The cameras will activate when reverse is selected. Other guidelines rule how long the screen stays active for, its response time, durability, and other elements.
Interestingly, however, the NHTSA opted not to make any specific demands around overlays on top of the video feed. Some manufacturers use guidelines, arrows, or other markings to show how the car might reverse or flag up other elements. While they can be useful, the Agency conceded, they can also inadvertently mask smaller objects like children.
Rear cameras are often offered as an option on cars, though are still the minority for standard-fit specs. Exactly how much they'll add to the cost of a vehicle - or whether manufacturers will absorb the extra - remains to be seen; as with mandatory airbags and other safety features, car buyers soon come to see such equipment as a baseline feature, rather than a bonus.