But here’s the thing.
Notice how NHTSA’s recent decision to add rearview cameras to the New Car Assessment Program totally inverts the original logic of that program. Again, the program was meant to push design beyond what was currently required by federal standards or was in federal law. In the case of rearview cameras, exactly the opposite is true. Congress has handed NHTSA a mandate to build rearview cameras and the like into the federal code. Meanwhile, the agency has shunted those technologies into a consumer information program. Instead of being a tool for progressive change, the New Car Assessment Program has become a tool for regressive retrenchment. This inverted use of the New Car Assessment Program is nauseatingly ironic. (My bet is that long-time NHTSA-watchers, like Nader and Claybrook, would tell me that this perversion of NCAP happened long ago.)
NHTSA is nearly three years behind on issuing a Congressionally-mandated rule that would save the lives of hundreds of lives per year. As KidsandCars.org notes, “Since [Cameron’s] law was passed . . . there have been over 1,100 deaths and 85,000 injuries in backover crashes.” As I have made perfectly clear, I believe that NHTSA’s use of the New Car Assessment Program in this case adds insult to injuries. Many of those injuries will be grievous, many of them will be fatal. Let me enumerate them one more time. This year, there will be “approximately 228 fatalities and 17,000 injuries” from “backover incidents.”
For no good reason.