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Backover Accidents: A Serious Risk for Toddlers and Younger Children

The following list of tragic facts appears on the Kids and Car website:

  • In the United States, at least 50 children are being backed over by vehicles every week.
  • The predominant age of victims is one year old (12-23 months).
  • More than 60 percent of backing up incidents involved a larger vehicle such as a truck, van or SUV.
  • Tragically, in more than 70 percent of these incidents, a parent or close relative is behind the wheel.

Federal regulations that took effect in 2018 require all new passenger vehicles sold in the United States to come equipped with backup cameras. Within a decade or so, the dangers to toddlers and younger children from vehicles pulling out of driveways and parking spots should be greatly reduced. Presently, however, most cars, pickups and SUVs on the road have huge rear blind spots. Even then, the restricted area of visibility directly in front of larger vehicles will remain a problem.

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In 2012, Consumer Reports published this assessment of the average rear blind spot distances for a range of private vehicles owned by Americans.

 

Car type

Drivers of Average Height

Short driver

 

Small sedans

12 ft. behind vehicle

24 ft. behind vehicle

 

Midsized sedans

13

22

 

Large sedans

13

23

 

Wagons/hatchbacks

9

15

 

Small SUVs

13

22

 

Midsized SUVs

18

28

 

Large SUVs

19

31

 

Minivans

15

26

 

Pickups

24

35

 

Sporty cars

13

21

 

 

This only tells half the story. In June 2016, CBS News reported on risks from front-view blind spots, especially for people in SUVs. The articles notes, “From 1996-2000, there were 24 recorded frontover deaths. That number jumped to 358 between 2006 and 2010.”

The network illustrated the problem by having “a mom of four test the blind spot in front of her SUV. Her 5-year-old son was on a scooter by the bumper. CBS moved him back until his mom, Julie Farber, could see him. Finally, at 8 feet, she could see her son.”

Preventing Backover and Frontover Tragedies

Parents, caregivers and older siblings should teach young children to move away from the backs, sides and fronts of vehicles when they see someone get into the driver’s seat. Drivers can also make themselves and everyone else safer by walking around their vehicles to check for kids and discarded objects such as bicycles.CC0 via Needpix -- https://www.needpix.com/photo/910540/girl-riding-bicycle-school-ride-happy-sport-fun-people

Vehicles that lack backup cameras can be upgraded with crossview mirrors (which can also be installed on a home to provide a clear view of the driveway). And nothing substitutes for turning one’s head to check blind spots while backing out or pulling in slowly. Exercising caution in parking lots and when crossing sidewalks is particularly important.

EJL

Richard N. Shapiro
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Personal Injury & Wrongful Death Lawyer Serving Va Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake & all of Virginia
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