Rearview Cameras on Most Cars Could Become Standard Equipment

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Consumer Reports ranks cars' rear blind zones, based on vehicle size and driver height. In the midsized SUV category, the average rear blind zone is 18 feet for a driver who is 5 feet 8 inches tall and 28 feet for a driver who is 5 feet 1 inch tall.

The 2004 Volkswagen Touareg and 2008 Land Rover Range Rover Sport rank number 1 for taller drivers, with an average blind zone of 11 feet, while the 2005 Nissan Pathfinder LE and the 2007 Mazda CX-7 are best for shorter drivers, with an average blind zone of 18 feet.

The 2009 Chevrolet Traverse without cameras and 2009 Ford Flex without cameras finish out at the bottom of the list in the midsized SUV category, with a blind zone of up to 35 feet for shorter drivers.

The in-vehicle camera technology, Fennell said, has gotten so good "that you can see better out of your camera than you can see out of your rearview mirror."

More and more people are accustomed to screens in their cars, according to Jeff Bartlett of Consumer Reports.

Small Cost, Big Benefit From Rearview Cameras

"People are looking for more connectivity," he said, with audio and navigation systems in their vehicles. "In the end, this will probably be fairly seamless to consumers. For the modest cost of adding this feature, there is a tremendous benefit."

The proposal is expected to be completed next year after a public comment period and all cars in the 2014 model year must include the camera systems. Under the plan, 10 percent of vehicles in a model fleet must meet the standards by 2010, and 40 percent in 2013.

The new rules would apply to all passenger cars, minivans, SUVs, pickup trucks, and other vehicles weighing up to 10,000 pounds. Objects would need to be visible in an area 20 feet behind the vehicle and about 5 feet to either side of the vehicle's center.

The government estimates the new requirements would cost about $1.9 billion to $2.7 billion -- adding about $200 to the cost of each new vehicle.

Though the rearview camera features will mean a higher price tag, "I expect the consumers aren't even going to notice the added cost to vehicles," Bartlett said. "Cars go up in price a little bit every year -- this is just going to fold into that and it will be offset in savings in other areas."

ABC News' Matt Hosford and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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