(Adds details on new rule, background)
WASHINGTON, March 31 (Reuters) - The U.S. government said on Monday it will require new cars and light trucks sold in the United States to have rearview cameras by May 2018, a regulation intended to prevent drivers from backing into pedestrians.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said the new requirement will apply to all vehicles under 10,000 pounds (4,500 kg), including buses and trucks.
"Rear visibility requirements will save lives, and will save many families from the heartache suffered after these tragic incidents occur," said NHTSA Acting Administrator David Friedman said in a statement.
There are, on average, 210 fatalities and 15,000 injuries per year caused by backover accidents, the agency said. Children under 5 years old and adults 70 and older account for more than half of all backover fatalities each year.
Many automakers already are installing rearview cameras in response to consumer demand.
The new rule will require that the field of view must include a 10-foot-by-20-foot (3-meter-by-6-meter) zone directly behind the vehicle, NHTSA said. The video system also must meet other requirements, including image size. (Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Bill Trott)