The start of a new school year brings excitement and new beginnings for students all over the nation. This time of year also brings an increased number of children outside as they wait for buses, in parking lots, or walk to and from school. The most tragic cases we handle at our Toledo, Ohio personal injury office are those that involve the death of a child. That’s why we join Kids and Cars, a non-profit consumer advocacy group, in its call for heightened safety measures that would help protect children from getting hit by vehicles backing out of driveways.
A recent national study by Kids and Cars showed that the number of child fatalities caused by vehicular “back-ups” has more than tripled in the last 10 years. According to the parent-run organization, as reported by the Wall Street Journal, 474 children have died since 2002 after being backed over by a vehicle, with an average of more than one child losing their life per week. In almost every occurrence, the parent was the person behind the wheel.
Since many of these types of accidents occur on private property, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does not have many statistics on non-traffic accidents involving children. Kids and Cars, along with other consumer-advocacy groups, are trying to bring this issue to the federal government in order to provide for more research on the subject. Kids and Cars states that the “data vastly underestimate the true magnitude of this public health and safety issue.”
According to Kids and Cars, sport utility vehicles have been under scrutiny as the cause of many of these tragic accidents. Many SUVs have high bumpers and rear windows, making it nearly impossible for a driver to see a small child behind the car. The design in smaller, sedan-type cars includes higher trunks and smaller rear windows, creating a huge blind spot as well.
Electronic detection devices are offered in newer vehicle models to alert the driver if there is an obstacle at the rear of the car, but many times this feature is only available with the purchase of an expensive navigation system, so that the navigation screen can work with a rear-view camera. Many families decline the back-up sensor option when purchasing a new car because of the price.
Expensive sensors aren’t the only way to keep kids safe. One idea to keep little ones away from the back of a car when the driver is leaving is to encourage the kids to stand in a safe, visible spot and have them wave goodbye. Always alert other adults to your departure and ask for their help in keeping children away from the car. Know where your kids are at all times, especially during these warm summer months, as more and more children play outside.