The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that backover accidents involving all types of vehicles cause at least 183 fatalities annually, and many of the victims are children. Based on its research, the national non-profit organization Kids and Cars states that “every year, thousands of children are hurt or die because a driver backing up didn’t see them.” Most of the victims are less than two years-old, and over 60% of the tragedies involved a larger size vehicle such as a truck, van or SUV. While back up incidents can happen in any vehicle because all vehicles have a blind zone, KIDS AND CARS notes that larger vehicles tend to have larger blind zones.
Bipartisan Group Urges President to Release 2008 Rear Visibilty Rule for Motor Vehicles
In April 2013, parents of children killed in backover incidents and safety groups joined Representatives Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Peter King (R-NY) at a Capitol Hill press event to urge the Obama Administration to release a rear visibility rule for motor vehicles. With strong bipartisan support Congress required this safety rule in the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act signed into law by President George W. Bush in February 2008. The rule is two years overdue and should have been issued by February 2011. The press event was called to urge President Obama to issue the rear visibility rule. Read the Kids and Cars statement on the press event.
Recommendations to Avoid Child Deaths and Injuries Due to Backover Accidents
To keep children safe, KIDS AND CARS recommends that parents and drivers undertake the following safety measures:
- Walk around and behind a vehicle prior to moving it.
- Know where your kids are. Make children move away from your vehicle to a place where they are in full view before moving the car and know that another adult is properly 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 cross view mirrors, audible collision detectors, rear view video camera and/or some type of back up detection device.
- Measure the size of your blind zone (area) behind the vehicles you drive. A 5-foot-1-inch driver in a pickup truck can have a rear blind spot of 8 feet wide by 50 feet long.
- Be aware that steep inclines and large SUV’s, vans and trucks add to the difficulty of seeing behind a vehicle.
- Hold child’s hand when leaving the vehicle.
- Teach your children to never play in, around or behind a vehicle and always set the emergency brake.
- Keep toys and other sports equipment off the driveway.
- Homeowners should trim landscaping around the driveway to ensure they can see the sidewalk, street and pedestrians clearly when backing out of their driveway. Pedestrians also need to be able to see a vehicle pulling out of the driveway.
- Never leave children alone in or around cars; not even for a minute.
- Keep vehicles locked at all times; even in the garage or driveway and always set your parking brake.
- Keys and/or remote openers should never be left within reach of children.
- Always make sure all child passengers have left the car after it is parked.
- Be especially careful about keeping children safe in and around cars during busy times, schedule changes and periods of crisis or holidays.
Technology To Reduce Backover Car, SUV, Pickup Truck Accidents
Several technologies exist which can help reduce backover accidents, including rear video cameras and sensors. Wendy R. Fleishman, a partner at Lieff Cabraser, commented, “If all companies agreed to install safety systems on all of their large vehicles, millions of children nationwide would no longer be at risk of being the victim of a backover crash.”
“We know young children are impulsive and have poor appreciation of risks obvious to adults,” stated attorney Fabrice N. Vincent of Lieff Cabraser. “Every life is precious and automobile and truck makers, owners and operators should take action now to stop scores of toddlers from being killed year after year simply because they were in the blind zone of large vehicles.”
If you were injured in a backover accident, you may be eligible to bring a lawsuit against the driver of the vehicle, his or her employer and the manufacturer of the vehicle for the suffering and pain inflicted, cost of past and future medical expenses and your lost wages. In the case of the death of the victim, family members may bring a wrongful death action. Contact a Lieff Cabraser auto injury attorney for a free, prompt review of your case by calling toll-free 1 800-541-7358 or by filling out the form below.