Two Virginia Beach families’ nightmares became life-shattering realities on an early December afternoon when a man backing a passenger van out of a driveway struck and inflicted fatal injuries on an 8-year-old boy. The child had been riding a Big Wheel around a cul-de-sac just off Centerville Turnpike.
The boy initially survived the crash, but he died shortly after arriving at Chesapeake Regional Medical Center. When WTKR interviewed the van driver a couple of days after the deadly crash, the man said he never saw his young neighbor and commented that he “would trade his own life for the boy’s if he could.”
- Backover Accidents: A Serious Risk for Toddlers and Younger Children
- What Is Virginia’s Statute of Limitations for Filing a Personal Injury Claim on Behalf of a Child?
- Why Do Drivers Hit and Injure Pedestrians?
Our hearts break for the boy’s parents and for the driver. Backover accidents like this one in Virginia Beach happen frequently across the United States. They can be prevented, but only when drivers make extra efforts. Checking behind their vehicles before climbing behind the wheel should become a habit, and doing everything to reduce rear blind spots has to become second nature.
When You Can’t See, Look
Transportation safety advocacy group Kids and Cars estimates that some 50 children fall victim to backover crashes each week in the United States. Two of those collisions in residential areas and parking lots result in deaths.
Perhaps the worst finding from the group’s research into backover crashes that injure and kill children is that 7 in 10 of the at-fault drivers are parents, family members or acquaintances of the victims. A phenomenon the group calls “bye-bye syndrome” often plays a role. The child stands in the path of the backing vehicle while waving to their departing mother, father, older sibling or adult friend.
An even bigger factor leading to backover crashes is large blind spots behind vehicles. Consumer Reports literally measured the extent of the problem and determined that, depending on a driver’s height, the average blind spots for a range of different vehicles were
- Small sedans, 12-24 feet
- Midsized sedans, 13-22 feet
- Large sedans, 13-23 feet
- Small SUVs, 13-22 feet
- Large SUVs, 19-31 feet
- Minivans, 15-26 feet
- Pickups, 24-35 feet
Backup cameras were not required in new cars and SUVs until 2018. Tens of millions of vehicles that lack these lifesaving devices remain parked outside residences across America. Hence, drivers who fail to do a walkaround and neglect to check their blind spots will remain ever-present dangers for decades to come.
Liability Without Blame
Even when a backover crash that injures or kills a child is just a horrible accident, the parents of the victim may still be able to file insurance claims. Children younger than 8 years of age will not be held to the rules of contributory negligence. And even the driver will need to namedin any legal proceeding, the insurance company be most directly involved. This is a principal reason people carry insurance--to shield themselves from personal financial liability.