According to government statistics, 228 people of all ages die every year in backover accidents involving passenger vehicles. 44% of these victims are under the age of 5 and they are usually killed by either one of their parents or another close relative.
The non-profit group Kids And Cars (www.KidsAndCars.org) pushed the government to track backover accidents. Here are some of the latest statistics:
- 50 children are injured every week in back over accidents
- 2 of these 50 die from their injuries
- The number of child fatalities reported for 2006 to 2010 was 448
- In the 4 years prior, the number of deaths was 88
- Back over deaths are the most common cause of off-road deaths involving children and vehicles
One of the factors leading to the increase in fatalities is poor visibility due to the amount of glass area shrinking in most vehicles. Ironically, this too is a safety effort to protect the vehicle’s inhabitants in the event of an accident. Front visibility has been measured for a long time, however rear visibility measurements were never measured until only recently.
Edmunds has begun to measure the size of the blind spot behind vehicles utilizing a child sized mannequin. The measurement is the distance in feet the mannequin is placed from the back of the car before it’s seen by the driver. Some of their results are surprising.
- For Toyota and Honda minivans the distance is 40 feet
- For a Cadillac CTS-V coupe, the distance is 101 feet
- Kids And Cars has a link on their web site to Consumer Reports where you can measure the distance for your vehicle
Rearview camera systems are one way to prevent backover tragedies. Last year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration considered requiring rearview cameras on all cars, trucks and SUVs by September of 2014. Automakers requested an additional two full years to become fully compliant once the final rules are published. No decision was reached and it’s uncertain when rearview cameras will be a requirement on all cars.
Rearview cameras began to appear in the United States about 10 years ago. They made their first appearance as a safety feature in Japan about 20 years ago. Rearview cameras were first available on luxury cars but have been slowly migrating their way into more vehicles over time. The cost to add this capability to every car would be between $160 and $200.
- About 45% of all 2012 models came equipped with a rearview camera system as standard equipment.
- About 23% of all models offer it as an option.
When rearview camera systems will become standard equipment is anybody’s guess, but here are six things we can do until that happens;
- If you’re in the market for a new car, pick a model that is equipped with a rearview camera, either as standard equipment or as an option. Automakers want our dollars and this is one way to register our “vote.”
- If you’re not in the market for a new car, add a camera to your current vehicle. It may not rock your world like an Alpine or Blaupunkt stereo system, but then you may avoid having your world rocked by a backover tragedy.
- Write or email your senator and congressman or congresswoman and let your feelings be known.
- Check out www.KidsAndCars.org and see how you can be involved.
- Talk with your kids, regardless of their age, about the danger of playing behind cars. This would be similar to training them not to play with matches, touch a hot stove, etc.
- Check behind your car before you back out of the driveway and look twice when backing out of a space at the local store or mall.
Do you have a suggestion, comment or question? If so, please share them with us either in the comments section of our blog or on our Facebook page.