A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report released on November 13, 2006 confirms that there are thousands of injuries and at least 183 deaths each year due to backovers. Since 1994, at least 500 children have died from being backed over, and the safety group Kids and Cars estimates that 50 children are backed over every week and at least two are killed as a result. According to Janette Fennell, founder and president of Kids and Cars, in about 70% of cases, the child is backed over by a parent, grandparent or neighbor.
Like others, I believe the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration needs to set a standard for rear visibility that all passenger vehicles must meet, since the the lack of rearward visibility obviously plays an important part in these tragedies. Larger rear-view mirrors, rear sensors or cameras are some of the options that vehicle manufacturers may study in meeting new, stricter standards regarding rearward visibility.
Safety Tips for Parents
Keeping your children out of harm's way requires ongoing education, supervision, and vigilance: there simply is no single fail-safe solution. However, safety experts advise employing the following strategies to help reduce the risk of a backover tragedy occurring:
• Ensure your children are properly supervised at all times, especially wherever motor vehicles might be present.
• Teach children not to play in, under, or around vehicles -- ever.
• Always assume children could be present and carefully check the street, driveway, and area around your vehicle before backing out.
• Avoid making your driveway a "playground." If you do allow children in this area, make sure that it's only when there are no vehicles present. To further protect children who may be outside playing, separate the driveway from the roadway with a physical barrier to prevent any cars from entering.
• To prevent curious children from ever putting a vehicle in gear, never leave vehicles running, and keep all vehicles, even those in driveways and garages, locked up tight.
• When backing up, always know where all children are and have them stay in your full view and well away from your vehicle.
• Look behind you as you back out S-L-O-W-L-Y with your windows rolled down to listen for children who may have dashed behind your vehicle suddenly -- and be prepared to stop!
• If you're driving an SUV or truck, remember that the blind spot behind your vehicle can be especially large: use extreme care whenever you back up.
Finally, talk with neighborhood parents about backover incidents and ask them to teach their children not to play in or around any vehicle or driveway. By working together to promote awareness and protective home and neighborhood environments, we can help to keep all our children safe.