In a letter to lawmakers, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration needs more time for "study and data analysis" before it can issue regulations.
"I believe it is important to allot additional time to ensure that the final rule is appropriate and the underlying analysis is robust," LaHood wrote.
The agency proposed more than a year ago that automakers include rear-mounted video cameras with in-vehicle display on all cars and light trucks by the 2014 model year.
Congress in 2008 set in motion the safety upgrades in response to dozens of accidents in which children were backed over. At issue in particular were blind zones in large sport utility vehicles and pickups.
Nearly 300 people are killed and 18,000 injured each year because of back-over accidents, according to NHTSA data. Many occur in driveways and parking lots. Nearly half the deaths involve children under age 5. The elderly also are frequent victims.
Lobbyists for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, an industry trade association, met with White House officials in December about the proposed rules. Documents brought to the meeting by lobbyists, and posted online by the White House, urged the administration to permit manufacturers the option of including expanded mirrors on vehicles rather than cameras. The documents peg the estimated cost to the industry of requiring cameras at $2.7 billion annually.
Gloria Bergquist, vice president of the alliance, said automakers are concerned about the cumulative cost of federal regulations. She noted that the cameras already are standard equipment in many vehicle models or offered as options for which car buyers pay extra.
The government estimated that video systems would add about $200 to the cost of each new vehicle. But if the vehicle already has a built-in GPS screen, the cost could be as low as $58, Bergquist said.
Under the 2008 law, the government was required to issue final rules to address back-over accidents by Feb. 28, 2011. LaHood has extended that deadline twice previously.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration http://www.nhtsa.gov/