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Hidden hazards lurk behind many popular cars

Nashville drivers may be surprised to find out that their cars, trucks, and SUVs aren't equipped with what many see as a crucial safety feature. Backup cameras have become more common in luxury vehicles in recent years, but are still absent as a required safety feature despite the high rate of avoidable back-over accidents that happen each year.

These types of accidents cause injuries to about 50 children each week, some of which are fatal. Regulators have estimated that over the course of a year, backup cameras in all new model cars would prevent about 18,000 injuries and 300 deaths. 

Federal regulators have been attempting to mandate including the cameras in all new model cars for the past five years, and have recently set their sights on 2014 models. However, the requirement has faced continued delays as authorities try to work out the specifics with the cooperation of the auto industry.

Consumer Reports tested blind zones recently, placing a traffic cone behind vehicles to determine how large the blind spot was. The results were surprising. Some sedans and small SUVs have a rear blind spot of up to 40 feet. Pickup trucks that were tested had blind spots of around 50 feet.

Drivers of pickup trucks with large blind spots told reporters that the rear visibility problems can make it difficult to safely change lanes on the highway and to backup in a parking lot.

However, the testing also revealed that backup cameras can completely eliminate the blind spot issues. For cars that do not currently come equipped with backup cameras, drivers can check behind their car before they get in, but they still run the risk of hitting people or objects that move into their blind spot while they're driving.

Source: USA Today, "Video: Why backup cameras needed more than ever," Fred Meier, May 21, 2012.

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