This is the second installment in our two-part blog post discussing the potential danger to children when vehicles back out of a driveway. Although motorists might not consider this simple driving maneuver a high risk activity, hundreds of kids die and over ten thousand are injured by vehicles backing up every year. This installment discusses legal changes and safety strategies designed to prevent these tragic child pedestrian accidents.
New Rear Visibility Safety Standards
Fortunately, The Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act has prompted new standards from the Department of Transportation (DOT). Under the final rule issued April 7, 2014, the required field of vision for all passenger vehicles weighing less than 10,000 pounds has been expanded. The regulations mandate that the area behind a vehicle be visible to a driver when the vehicle is put into reverse. The DOT presumes that motor vehicle manufacturers will install rear back up video monitoring systems with in-dash displays to comply with the requirements.
Although all vehicles that are sold or leased in the U.S. must meet this new vehicle safety standard by May 2018, the danger will persist even after all new vehicles sold and leased to consumers have been equipped with camera systems. While the camera systems will help reduce the risk of these dangerous child pedestrian accidents, safety regulators note that motorists with such systems tend to be less attentive regarding objects, animals, and kids located behind a backing vehicle. Further, older model vehicles that are not equipped with these systems will remain on roadways throughout Florida and across the country for decades. While older vehicles can be retrofitted with back up cameras, there is no reason to assume that the majority of drivers will incur this expense.
Safety Suggestions to Avoid Back Up Pedestrian Collisions
Because not all new vehicles will be equipped with this new safety feature for several years and many older-model vehicles will never be retrofitted, the website KidsAndCars.org provides safety tips intended to reduce the risk of back over crashes:
- Small Children: Explain to kids that "parked" vehicles can start to move and that drivers will not be able to see behind the vehicle.
- Objects in Driveways: Remove sports equipment, toys, and bikes from the driveway, so they do not attract children.
- Install an After-Market Safety System: Back up camera and sensor systems are now available and reasonably affordable.
- Supervision of Children: Adults should exercise vigilance near motor vehicles especially during times that children are more likely to be present, such as before and after school, on holidays, and during visits from guests with children.
- Pre-Driving Checks: Walk around and look behind the vehicle before sitting in the driver's seat.
- High Profile Vehicles: Exercise heightened awareness when in an SUV, van, and/or truck.
- Inclines: Recognize that backing on steep grades and inclines increases the size of blind spots.
- Educating Children: Teach children not to play in or around driveways.
- Securing Home: Install locks that kids cannot reach once young children are old enough to walk.
- Lower Window: Roll down your window to hear warnings from pedestrians.
- Passenger Lookout: Have an adult passenger stand outside the vehicle and watch for children or animals moving behind the vehicle.
- Prune Vegetation: Keep landscaping pruned back to avoid impaired visibility.
- Holding Hands: Hold hands with children in parking lots at all times.
While there is no guarantee these steps will prevent a back over accidents, these measures might mitigate the risk according to some child safety advocates. Although technology will soon provide increased safety precautions, there is no substitute for prudent, cautious, and attentive driving.
If your child has been injured by a motor vehicle, the Miami Traffic Accident Injury Attorneys at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano offer the assistance you need to obtain the results you desire. With over 130 collective years of experience representing truck accident victims across South Florida, our firm provides legal representation of unmatched excellence. Contact our firm as soon as possible to start on the road to protecting your legal rights. Our firm received an AV rating from Martindale Hubbell and was ranked as a top firm in South Florida by the Miami Herald. Put our exceptional personal injury attorneys to work on your case. Call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or you can visit our website to schedule your initial consultation.