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Protecting Our Children: Avoiding Accidents When Backing Up

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We may not hear about it every day, but it’s astounding just how prevalent this type of accident is. In the U.S. alone, at least 50 children a week are victims of backover incidents, with approximately 48 requiring emergency room treatment for their injuries and two suffering fatal injuries.  These accidents result in about 13,000 injuries and more than 200 fatalities a year.

In the majority of backover accidents, victims are between 12 months and 23 months, and in more than 70 percent of cases, the driver of the vehicle is a parent or close relative to the child.

With that being said, this is clearly an issue that plagues all households in the U.S., including Arizona. The hope is that with increased awareness, we can begin to see these numbers drop significantly.

Below are a few things for you to know to help prevent future accidents from happening:

  1. Learn the ‘Blindzone Measurement’ for your vehicle
    org, a national safety advocacy organization, is calling for all agencies to adopt the term ‘blindzone’ rather than ‘blind spot’ when referring to areas that cannot be seen by a driver when slowly backing up or moving. This is because the average blindzone measures approximately 7-8 feet wide and 20-30 feet long. Blind spots are also most often associated with accidents occurring when changing lanes, versus when backing out of or leaving a driveway.Organizations such as Consumer Reports and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have already agreed to incorporate the term “blindzone” when addressing this issue. They also emphasize that blindzone areas can be in front and in back of a vehicle. It is important to know the dimensions of the blindzone on your vehicle, and to keep in mind that the shorter the driver, the larger the blindzone.
  2. Install a backup camera on your vehicle
    A study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that cameras would help prevent more backover crashes into pedestrians in the vehicle’s blindzone than parking sensors. In fact, cameras alone worked better than sensors and cameras combined.IIHS’s executive vice president and chief research officer, David Zuby, said, “Right now cameras appear to be the most promising technology for addressing this particularly tragic type of crash, which frequently claims the lives of young children in the driveways of their own homes.”

    Legislation has been on the books since 2008 to install rearview cameras in all new vehicles, and the law has recently been passed requiring all new vehicles to be equipped with rearview camera systems by 2018.

  3. Be aware of “bye-bye syndrome”
    Coined by KidsAndCars.org, the “bye-bye syndrome” occurs when children do not want to say goodbye and follow a moving vehicle. Drivers often assume the child is safe inside the house when in fact, the child has darted behind the vehicle.Installing locks on doors to prevent children from leaving the home can help prevent this. Another idea is to ask another passenger in your car to exit the vehicle to ensure no one is at risk around the vehicle. If you are driving alone, make sure to check the perimeter of your car before getting in and taking off.

In general, it’s a good idea to keep these three words in mind: check, supervise, and separate. Always check for children before driving, supervise children around the vehicle, and separate play areas from driveways. By following these easy to remember steps, we can help save the lives of children around the country and in our own neighborhoods.