So far this year, at least 31 children have died because a driver could not see them in front or behind their vehicle. The latest incident was a one-year-old boy in Texas on Easter Sunday who was backed over in his driveway. Now that the weather is warmer and children are playing outside, tragic incidents such as these are more prevalent. However, it should serve as a reminder for parents to be extra vigilant to ensure the safety of our children around vehicles.
According to Kids and Cars, a nonprofit group that works to improve child safety around cars, at least 50 children are backed over every week in the U.S. and at least two children die. Sadly, the majority of the drivers responsible for the deaths are direct family members of the children.
CBS News today aired a segment on the dangers of blind zones. The story illustrated how bad the blind zones really are by putting over 60 children behind a large SUV. When they did this, though, the driver could not see any of the 60 children after looking in both the side and rearview mirrors. See the video clip above.
More than half of backover incidents involved larger trucks or SUVs. The report cited that the blind zone behind a pickup can be almost 50 feet and a large SUV 39 feet.
Kids and Cars offer these tips to help prevent these tragedies:
- Walk all the way around your vehicle before moving it.
- Know where your children (or neighbor’s children) are before moving a vehicle.
- Make sure children are away from your vehicle in a safe place where they are in full view before moving the car; and know that another adult is supervising children before moving your vehicle.
- Teach children that “parked” vehicles might move. Let them know that they can see the vehicle; but the driver might not be able to see them.
- Consider installing crossview mirrors or a rearview video camera.
Consumers Union advocates the use of backup cameras or other technology that allows a driver to see behind their vehicle and remove deadly blind zones. Currently the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is considering a rule to expand the required field of view to enable a driver to detect areas behind a vehicle in order to reduce death and injury from backover incidents. To set a new standard, additional mirrors, cameras, or other technologies may be required in all vehicles. The comment period on this rule is open until October of this year and the final rule is scheduled to be issued in February 2011.
Remember, it’s important to use extreme caution when backing up. Follow the tips above, drive slowly, turn off the radio and roll down your windows to listen for children, and be prepared to stop.—Liza Barth