Back-over deaths occur when a driver hits and injures another person while backing up. Tragically, the victims in these types of accidents are most often children under the age of 5 and adults over the age of 70. Many of these accidents occur in the driveways of residential neighborhoods and most often involve a family member of the victim. Eleven children nationwide have already lost their lives as a result of back-over pedestrian accidents this year – the danger is ever-present in each state, including North Carolina.
The rise in deaths related to back-over injuries may stem from a change in the types of vehicles that are traveling on our roads. Today many families own SUV’s, trucks and mini-vans. These types of vehicles are likely to have large blind spots in which drivers cannot see what is behind them, especially when small children are playing behind a vehicle. In a recent example of these large blind spots, a safety advocate placed 62 children behind an SUV. The driver of the SUV could not see the 62 children while seated in the driver seat of the vehicle.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, between 95 and 112 lives could be saved each year with the installation of rear view cameras on new passenger cars and trucks. The NHTSA recently pushed back a February 2012 deadline for the implementation of a mandate requiring that all new passenger vehicles under 10,000 pounds be outfitted with a rear view camera to September 2014. A senior official at the NHTSA said the reason for the delay was that more research and data was needed on a wider range of vehicles in order to ensure that the safety standard put in place is effective at reducing deaths associated with back-over injuries.
Rear view cameras cannot completely solve the blind spot problem, but they are currently viewed as the best technology available to increase visibility when backing up. Many feel their implementation is a step in the right direction toward reducing the number of deaths from back-over injuries. Officials at the NHTSA note that it is important even in vehicles with rear view cameras that drivers remain vigilant and aware of what is behind them when placing their vehicles in reverse. Changes in vehicle design may further reduce the blind spots that are common with SUV’s, trucks and minivans. Also, the use of radar and ultrasound may prove to be beneficial in the push to reduce the deaths from these types of accidents.
Source: USA Today & The Tennessean, “Back-over deaths devastate families across U.S.,” Brain Haas