Parents, Safety Groups File Lawsuit Against Federal Government to Force Installation of Backup Warning Devices in Cars, Trucks


Parents, Safety Groups File Lawsuit Against Federal Government to Force Installation of Backup Warning Devices in Cars, Trucks

US backover accidents map

Last week, formal pleadings were filed against the U.S. Department of Transportation, among others, by the parents of two small children who died or were seriously injured as the result of a backup accident along with three safety advocate groups who are hoping to get a court to force the implementation of a federal law requiring backup warning technology to be placed in American cars, SUVs, and light trucks.

The law, entitled the “Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act,” has been on the books for several years now; however, the Department of Transportation has not formalized and finalized the necessary federal regulations that would implement the law and force American car manufacturers to put these backup warning devices (like rear-view cameras) into their products.

Those who have brought this lawsuit to get rear-view cameras or other backup safety devices placed in new car models are (1) Greg Gulbransen, a father whose 2 year old boy, Cameron, was killed in a backup accident in their driveway in 2002; (2) Susan Auriemma, whose 3 year old daughter, Kate, was seriously injured in a similar accident in 2005; and three safety groups (3) Consumers Union of the United States; (4) Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety and (5) KidsAndCars.org.

Read the complaint that they have filed online here.

The plaintiffs have sued to force these regulations to be finalized; their big argument – the federal law ordered the Department of Transportation to have this done in 2011. Their lawsuit, filed in a New York federal court, asks a federal judge to order the federal agency to do what was supposed to have been done, according to the Act, two years ago.

Hundreds of Children Are Seriously Injured or Killed in Backup Accidents: Almost Half of These Deaths are Kids Under the Age of Five Years Old

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that in 2010, 44% of those killed in this country in a backup accident were under the age of five years old. According to its 2010 estimates, the cost of adding backup cameras to cars with dash displays would be a maximum of $88.00 and a maximum of $203.00 for designs that do not have the dashboard screens.

The head of one of the plaintiff safety groups, Jackie Gillan, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, said:

“Passing the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Act was not controversial in 2008 and implementing the law should not be controversial today. Democratic and Republican members of Congress supported enactment, along with consumer and safety groups, pediatricians, families whose children were killed in backover crashes and the auto industry. It is time to stop delaying and start solving a dangerous safety problem with a technology that is available and absolutely essential to saving lives.”

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Note:  Unlike the standard personal injury lawsuit, where a plaintiff (like the parent of a child victim of a backover accident) sues a defendant for damages, this case is not asking for damages but instead petitions the court for action.  Backover lawsuits seeking damages would be filed in the local state jurisdiction under that state’s personal injury and/or wrongful death laws.

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