Backover Safety Alert
Kids getting backed over by cars is an all too common cause of injuries and death for younger children. In fact, about 1 child a week* dies in the United States when they are accidentally backed over by the family car or SUV, often in their own driveway.
What's the problem? It probably isn't that parents aren't checking their mirrors or looking behind them as they back out. Instead, today's large SUVs, minivans, and pickup trucks have a very large blind spot behind them.
If you don't believe that it is a problem, have your younger child stand behind your car. Does the top of his head even reach above the bottom of the rear window? If not, then it should be obvious that you won't be able to see him in your rear view mirror.
Even more surprisingly, Consumer Reports magazine reports that this blind spot can extend from 13 to 50 feet behind the car depending on the type of car and the height of the driver. Those calculations were measured using a 28 inch traffic cone behind the car, and then moving it further and further away until it could be seen.
Now 28 inches might not seem very tall, since the average toddler or preschool age child who might run behind a car is going to be much taller than that, but an older child sitting on the floor, playing in the driveway, may not be much taller than 2 feet. The child playing 10 or 15 feet behind your car isn't usually what you have to worry about though, as you will usually spot them when you get in the car. It is the child right behind the car, within a few feet, that you will usually not see and might rollover.
If you consider that the top of the tailgate may be 4 feet or more off of the ground in a large SUV, then it is easy to understand why you can't see a child that is younger than 4 or 5 years old that is standing or running right behind you as you back up.
Preventing Backover Injuries
One of the most important ways to prevent backover injuries is to simply make sure that your kids aren't around your car when you back up. So make sure that you know where everyone is and that they are supervised if your kids are outside, and childproof the doors of your house so that none of your younger kids can get out of the house on their own.
You should be especially careful when you change your routine or have an unexpected situation come up. For example, you might know exactly where your kids are when you first leave for work in the morning, but what happens if you forget something and have to run back into the house? Will you be sure that one of the kids didn't sneak outside or follow you out?
Unfortunately, no matter how careful you are, there may still be times when your kids get behind your car without your knowing it. That makes an extra safety device, to alert you that they are there, important. These safety devices include various types of backup sensors that alarm when something is behind your car and video cameras that let you see a child in the car's blind spot. If buying a new car, you might look for one that includes one of these devices, so that you don't have to get installed afterwards.
Keep in mind that Consumer Reports states that a rear view camera system is likely the best option to prevent a backover incident.
If you can't afford one of these safety devices, at the very least, you should:
- again, be sure that there aren't any children around your car before you back up
- reduce distractions when you are backing up, by turning off the radio and not talking on your cell phone, etc.
- roll down your windows when you back up, so that even if you can't see anyone behind your car, you might at least hear them.