A crash on Early Street in Norfolk, Virginia (VA), on the morning of March 1, 2017, sent a female pedestrian to the hospital with injuries. Police charged the driver who struck the 65-year-old woman and one of the dogs she was walking with reckless driving.
According to news reports, the at-fault driver was backing out of a driveway. The dog suffered a broken leg, while the woman sustained undisclosed injuries that were described as non-life-threatening. Both are expected to recover.
Research by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration shows that backing crashes like this one are common, usually avoidable and often quite serious. Statistics from 2007 revealed 221 pedestrians and bike riders died when drivers hit or backed over them. Another 14,000 people suffered injuries in such wrecks, with people older than 65 being particularly at risk.
Since a large majority of the backing crashes reported for 2007 involved cars, minivans and pickup trucks, federal regulators issued a rule that that all new passenger vehicles sold in the United States after 2018 be designed to allow greater rear vision. Specifically, as summarized by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shortly after the rule was issued in 2014, "The field of view must include a 10-foot by 20-foot zone directly behind the vehicle and must display specific portions of seven 32-inch-tall cylinders placed along the perimeter of that zone."
In other words, blind spots must be largely eliminated. Other parts of the rule call for helping drivers estimate distances and spot objects in low light. Most car and truck makers have met this requirement by installing back-up cameras. The insurance institute concluded that "rear cameras could help prevent backover crashes involving people in a vehicle’s blind zone."
No one can know whether a back-up camera would have helped protect the injured pedestrian and her pet in Norfolk. It is clear from the police officers' decision to charge the driver with operating recklessly, however, that the man did not do enough to see and avoid hitting the person and dog.
My Virginia Beach-based personal injury law firm colleagues and I also know that the injured woman has strong grounds for filing an insurance claim against the at-fault driver. Veterinary bills could be covered in addition to her own medical expenses. Working with a knowledgeable legal adviser would help her secure adequate compensation and damages.