Congress passed a law in 2007 ordering the DOT to draft and pass regulations to help prevent so-called back-over deaths where young children are killed by motorists, often parents or relatives, driving in reverse out of driveways. The federal government estimates 100 children 5 or younger are killed in back-over accidents every year.
The DOT has failed to write any such regulation despite a proposal to require all vehicles made in 2014 or later to have backup cameras, the Houston Chronicle reported Wednesday.
Now, advocates said they plan to file suit to force the DOT to comply with the law.
"If it takes this kind of action, that is what we're going to have to do," said Greg Gulbransen, a New York pediatrician who accidentally backed over and killed his son, Cameron, in 2002. "We've tried so hard for so long, and now we're stuck."
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced Tuesday -- two days after an investigation into the matter was published in the Chronicle -- a new rule listing backup cameras as "recommended safety equipment." The measure falls short of the regulation called for in the 2007 Kids Transportation Safety Act but would entice automakers to begin including the devices if they want their vehicles to carry the agency's coveted five-star safety rating.
Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., who sponsored the 2007 bill, said she's hopeful the federal government will act soon.
"I hope that whether through the courts or the rulemaking process, we can act as soon as possible so that not another one of these precious children are injured or killed in preventable accidents," she said.