All drivers occasionally need to back up their vehicles. Since there is poor visibility around the back and sides of passenger cars, SUVs and trucks, there is a risk of hitting a pedestrian or bicyclist behind the vehicles. Each year in the U.S., the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that an average of 18,000 people is injured in back over accidents. Almost 300 people are killed each year. In the case of children who are injured or killed in back over accidents, the drivers are often members of their families.
Blind spots around the vehicles contribute to the back over accident problem. While backup cameras may help, they are not a substitute for using safe backing practices such as checking mirrors and reversing slowly. According to Consumer Reports, the average driver of a small sedan will have a 12-foot blind spot at the back of the vehicle. Average-sized drivers of large SUVs have blind spots of 19 feet, and pickup trucks have blind spots of 24 feet. The blind spots are even larger for short drivers. It is important for all drivers to take steps to prevent potential back over accidents from happening. These can happen when people are backing out of their driveways or reversing out of parking spaces in parking lots. These accidents can be devastating to both the injured victims and their families. It is possible to avoid having back over accidents by remaining alert, attentive and cautious when driving in reverse.
How to prevent child back over accidents
Many newer vehicles have backup cameras installed, but these are not a substitute for exercising caution when people will be backing up their vehicles. Large blind spots exist behind every vehicle. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the cameras reduce blind spots by 90 percent. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that although backup cameras installed in new cars increased from 32 percent to 68 percent from 2008 to 2011, back over injuries only decreased by 8 percent during that time.
Part of the problem is that drivers may become dependent on backup cameras. Many of these systems project images on a screen, meaning that drivers may focus on the screens instead of looking over their shoulders and checking their rearview mirrors when they are backing their vehicles.
Drivers should install backup cameras on their cars if their vehicles do not have them. However, drivers should also exercise caution when they will reverse their vehicles. It is important for parents to understand that children think that drivers can see them because they can see the vehicles. Children also tend to run outside to say goodbye a final time to parents. People should always walk around their vehicles before they drive them in reverse. They should back up with their windows rolled down so that they can hear if someone yells for them to stop. If children are outside, drivers should make certain that they know where they are before they reverse. Parents should always hold their children's hands in parking lots to prevent them from running behind cars that are reversing out of spaces. Children should be taught not to play around vehicles or in the driveway. They should also be taught that parked vehicles may suddenly move and that drivers may not see them.
Landscaping around driveways should be kept trimmed so that drivers are able to see anyone who might be on the sidewalk. If drivers have adult passengers who are riding with them, they might have the passengers get out and watch for animals or children while they reverse the vehicles. Drivers should also take added precautions if they are driving larger SUVs or pickup trucks as well as when they must reverse on steep inclines. Steep inclines and larger vehicles all increase the difficulty of seeing behind the vehicles.
What to do if your child is injured in a back over accident
The first thing that you should do if your child is injured in a back over accident is to call 911. Follow the advice of the EMT and have your child transported to the hospital by ambulance if you are advised to do so. While you are waiting for help to arrive, administer first aid or CPR if they are needed.
If the driver was a non-parent such as a third-party driver, child care worker, bus driver or nanny, wait for the police to arrive. When the police come, ask the officer to write a traffic collision report and an incident report. You should request copies of the reports that are written by the officer. If the back over accident happened in a parking lot, file an incident report with the property owner or store and ask that the video footage is saved if the property has video cameras installed in its lot.
After you have sought treatment for your child, you should make certain to follow all of the doctor's follow-up recommendations. If the driver was a non-parent, you should also talk to a personal injury lawyer experienced in pursuing child injury claims. Attorneys are best suited to conduct in-depth investigations of back over accidents and to secure the evidence that might be needed in a personal injury claim against the negligent driver or registered owner of the vehicle.