Cars manufactured on or after May 2018 will have to be equipped with rear visibility technology under a rule announced recently by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The requirement will reduce the risk of deaths and injuries from backover accidents, the agency said.

An average of 15,000 injuries and 210 deaths occur each year as a result of backover accidents, according to the NHTSA. Adults over the age of 70 account for 26 percent of those fatalities, while 31 percent of deaths involve children under the age of 5.

The rule requires a minimum field of view of 10 by 20 feet directly behind a vehicle. There are also minimum requirements for image size, response time, durability and deactivation.

“Safety is our highest priority, and we are committed to protecting the most vulnerable victims of backover accidents—our children and seniors,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a news release.

In the early 1990s, researchers at the University of California began looking into the problem of backover crashes when they discovered an inordinate number of toddlers showing up in hospital databases of injured child pedestrians. A number had been injured or killed as the result of a car backing out of a driveway.

In 1993, the NHTSA sponsored studies that noted the effect of backup accidents on children. One report explored sensors and cameras as potential solutions, noting the accidents “involve slow closing speeds and, thus, may be preventable,” reported.

Of 2012 vehicle models in the United States, 44 percent came with rearview camera standards and 27 percent offered them as options.

The government estimates that adding a rearview system will cost between $132 and $142 per vehicle. For vehicles that already have a display screen in the dashboard, it will cost around $43 to comply with the new regulations.

Consumers Union urged automakers to move quickly to beat the deadline. “This day has been a long time coming,” said Ellen Bloom, senior director of federal policy at the organization.

Regardless of whether your car now has a rearview camera, you should always be extra vigilant when backing up. The NHTSA recommends these safety tips:

  • Teach children not to play around cars.
  • Teach children to keep their toys and bikes out of the driveway and to move away from a car when a driver gets in or starts the car.
  • Supervise children in and around cars.
  • Walk around your vehicle to make sure the area is clear before backing up.
  • Have children in the area stand to the side of the driveway so you can see them while backing up.
  • Look behind you and check your mirrors while backing up slowly.
  • Roll down your windows while backing up so you can hear what is happening.
  • Do not rely solely on rearview video or warning devices to make sure children are out of the way.