Driving With Children Present: A Hard Look at Back Over Accidents
Within two days, one young Brockton resident suffered injury after a vehicle struck him while walking his bicycle across the street. Another youth, a 12-year-old boy, lost his life while roller-blading and getting hit by a tractor-trailer. These pedestrian-related accidents are all too common in Massachusetts. With school starting back up again, youth pedestrian safety in particular should be a top priority among lawmakers and parents sending their kids back to the classroom.
While drivers should be careful at all times, heightened awareness is required when driving in or near school zones. Children can be particularly susceptible to darting into the road or going unnoticed due to their small stature. These characteristics, coupled with unsafe driving, led to an announcement by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that by May 2018 new laws would effectively require back up cameras in every vehicle.
Back Over Accidents and Youth
Among all school-age pedestrian accidents, back over accidents have been receiving significant publicity due to the new NHTSA law. The very young and the elderly are disproportionately affected by these accidents, with children under five accounting for 31 percent of back over deaths annually and adults over 70 totaling 26 percent of such deaths. According to the Center for Effective Government, it is estimated that 50 children under the age of 15 are injured or killed in back over accidents every week.
These accidents occur due to a combination of factors, and the NHTSA has taken steps to eliminate one of them: blind spots. Blind spots are areas that drivers cannot see from their mirrors given an object’s proximity to the car. For example, in one news study, testers put a traffic cone 5 feet behind either an SUV or a van. This cone replicated the size of an average two-and-a-half year old. None of the drivers saw the cone before backing up—they all ran over it. This is not just indicative of bad driving, but a genuine inability to see your surroundings makes backing up that much more dangerous for passersby.
Blind spots do not just affect drivers of large vehicles, but cars too. Further, blind spots do not just affect backing up, but driving forward as well. While most cars are lower to the ground and have better visibility generally, car drivers would not likely see something the size of a traffic cone either. This is especially true if such a small child was in close proximity to the vehicle, outside the range of vision. It is good practice to walk around your vehicle before getting in and backing up, to make sure your path is clear. This can be particularly difficult in school zone areas where cars are tightly packed, and children are walking everywhere. Children are known to retrieve their play ball under a car, walk into the street if unattended, exit a car before a parent has a chance to walk around to the driver’s seat. These innocent children’s acts have led to back over accidents that occur on a child’s walk to or from school, in parking lots, or even in a family driveway.
If your child has been injured or killed in any type of car accident, we can help ensure your family’s legal rights are protected. Our knowledgeable car accident lawyers are prepared to work with all variations of vehicle accidents. Contact John J. Sheehan today for a free consultation.