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Battle over Rear-View Cameras in Cars Heats Up

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- On the same day a lawsuit is being filed by safety advocates demanding federal action on rules to require rear-view cameras in new cars, the government on Wednesday announced it will make the cameras a "recommended feature" in new vehicles.

Safety advocates are saying that they are fed up with delays by the Obama administration to implement a 2008 law to have a hard rule in place on rear-view cameras in cars by 2011.

"Adding this as a recommendation simply just underscores it's an option for a car," safety advocate Susan Auriemma told ABC News.

In 2005, Auriemma's then 3-year-old daughter darted behind her car while she was backing up and was run over.

"Her face was covered in blood, her clothes were torn from the impact and she was screaming, asking me why I had hit her with the car," Auriemma said.

On average every year there are 210 deaths from similar circumstances -- mostly 1- and 2-year-old children. On top of that, there are 15,000 injuries each year from similar accidents.

Auriemma's daughter, Kate, survived and is now 11.  But she and other parents, along with three organizations, are suing the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, saying it is dragging its feet and ignoring Congress by failing to pass a rule for these back-up cameras.

The auto industry says more than half of new cars have some back-up detection system, and says consumers, not the government, should decide whether cameras come with cars.

Along with the cameras, in-car systems beep when you are getting too close to an object, and some have automatic braking systems which stop the car without the driver hitting the brakes.  

But rather than a recommendation, the lawsuit is demanding a rule.

The lawsuit against the Department of Transportation was brought by Public Citizen and a group that includes Greg Gulbransen, who lobbied for a change to DOT standards after he accidentally backed into his son Cameron, killing him.

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