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NHTSA: a number of mandated safety changes still being worked out

The massive and wide-ranging federal highway bill enacted by President Obama last July came with a large number of amendments and special provisions relating to road safety across the country. In particular, Congress drafted many new provisions tasking the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to act within specified timeframes in matters relating to car, truck and bus safety.

The agency has been woefully tardy on most of those dictates, citing in many instances an inability to comply owing to limited resources and a dearth of relevant research.

Rear-view cameras, which were addressed by Congress even prior to enactment of the highway law, are a case in point. Federal regulators strongly believe that universal installation of back-up cameras will go far toward reducing car accidents across the country, especially fatal accidents involving children who are playing behind vehicles.

A final rule on the cameras was to have issued more than two years ago, but it has been delayed several times by the United States Department of Transportation, with no deadline even existing at the moment.

David Strickland, NHTSA head, notes the delay, but says it is necessary in order to do justice to the change.

"We want to make sure we get it right," he recently said.

Other subject matter has also been delayed. Mandatory installation of seat belts on all new commercial buses -- influenced in part by a fatal bus accident several years ago involving an Ohio university baseball team from Bluffton -- is still lagging, with the NHTSA stating that three years could pass following a final version of the rules on belts being published.

A number of measures relating to truck accident avoidance are also still at the proposal stage, with a final rule on anti-rollover technology now expected to be issued next spring.

Source: Julesburg Advocate," NHTSA chief: no deadline to finalize car backup cameras," David Shepardson, June 17, 2013