As parents, we will go to extreme lengths to protect our children from harm and when it comes to vehicle safety, purchasing appropriate child seats and teaching our children to always buckle up is nearly automatic to protect against the unthinkable. But sometimes, the most dangerous place for a child is outside the car and in your own driveway. A major safety issue involving children and vehicles is the risk of back-over accidents. KidsandCars.org knows these dangers well and just how tragic a back-over incident can be for a family.
In the United States, at least fifty children every week are the victim of being backed over by a vehicle. On average, two children will die every week as a result of back-over incidents. Most of these child victims are just one year old. Over 60% of these incidents involve large vehicles, such as trucks, vans and SUVs, and in 70% of the incidents, the person behind the wheel is a parent or close relative of the child.
Lack of visibility for the driver is a major contributor to back-over incidents involving children, an issue which is only worsened by larger, higher and longer vehicles. While every car has its blind spots, those blind spots increase as the size and height of the car increases. Small children who are unpredictable and too young to understand basic safety concepts are at risk when they step into one of these blind spots, becoming invisible to the driver of the car.
While technology—such as rearview video cameras systems and sensors—does exist to help protect against these dangers, there are currently no government regulations concerning what a driver should be able to see behind a vehicle. While advocacy groups and attorneys lobby to change these regulations and mandate safety features, the responsibility for safety falls squarely on the shoulders of drivers and parents of young children. Make sure that you are practicing these safe driving habits the next time you get in your car:
- Visually observe the area around your vehicle before moving it
- Always know where your kids are and make them stand in a place in full view of the car, with adult supervision, before moving the vehicle.
- Teach your children basic vehicle safety: that parked vehicles might move and that the driver may not be able to see them and that it is never safe to play in or around a vehicle.
- Keep your children’s toys out of the driveway
- Install safety equipment such as a rearview video camera, cross view mirrors, or audible collision detectors in your vehicle
- Know the size of your vehicle’s blind spots.
- Keep cars locked and secured at all times and keep the keys and remote starters out of the reach of children