WASHINGTON (Bloomberg) -- A rule that may require all cars and light trucks sold in the U.S. to have rear-view cameras won't be issued until the end of the year, U.S. regulators said.
The Transportation Department was mandated under a 2008 auto-safety law signed by President George W. Bush to issue the requirement by the end of 2011. It's now being delayed a second time by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, the department said in an e-mailed statement today.
"While the department has made progress toward a final rule to improve rearward visibility, it has decided that further study and data analysis -- including of a wider range of vehicles and drivers -- is important to ensure the most protective and efficient rule possible," the agency said.
The proposed rule, estimated to cost $2.7 billion, was listed as one of the five most expensive pending U.S. regulations in an Aug. 30 letter President Barack Obama sent to House Republican leaders. Requiring backup cameras would add $58 to $203 to the cost of a vehicle, depending on the model and whether it already has a video screen, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has said.
The rule may save about 146 lives a year by improving rear visibility of vehicles, NHTSA estimated in 2010 when it issued a proposed rule. While the law doesn't explicitly require a rearview camera, no other technology currently meets the standard. Back-over accidents cause 292 U.S. deaths annually, most frequently killing children and the elderly.
At a cost of $2.7 billion a year for an annual fleet of 16.6 million, the regulator's highest estimate, each life saved would cost $18.5 million.
The rule would benefit supplier Gentex Corp., a maker of rearview mirrors that include camera displays, David Leiker, a Robert W. Baird & Co. analyst, said in a Dec. 28 report.
Gentex, based near Grand Rapids, Mich., may have revenue growth of as much as 20 percent on shipment growth of as much as 14 percent spanning three to four years, Leiker said in the report. He recommends buying Gentex shares.
The company, which reported $1.02 billion in revenue in the year that ended Sept. 30, competes against Magna International Inc. as well as makers of systems that display images from backup cameras in navigation systems.
But today's news sent Gentex stock plunging 14.4 percent to $23.65 on the Nasdaq after the stock gained 4.5 percent on Tuesday in anticipation of the rules being put in place.
S&P Capital analyst Efraim Levy put a "hold" opinion on Gentex today.
"Delay of definitive rules, leaves uncertainty for auto manufacturers and for suppliers of rear view technology about the timing and requirements of the pending rules," Levy wrote in a report. "As such, manufacturers may delay adding these features to vehicles."
Fifty children are backed over each week on average, and two are killed, according to KidsAndCars.org, a Leawood, Kansas-based group that advocates a camera requirement.
Seventy percent are backed over by a parent or other close relative, with 1-year-olds being the predominant age, according to the group's data. Automakers through the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, whose members include General Motors Co. and Toyota Motor Corp., criticized the proposal issued in December 2010, saying a single standard doesn't make sense because bigger models have larger blind spots.
Backup cameras are standard on 45 percent of 2012-model vehicles sold in the U.S., according to data compiled by Edmunds.com, a Web site that tracks automotive sales.