Now even harder, try to picture the child was your own, and this horrible incident occurred in your driveway at home. One word comes to mind: UNTHINKABLE, right? Wrong!
Unfortunately, this isn’t a rare occurrence. It is reported EVERY week in the U.S. that at least 50 children are being backed over by vehicles! Shocking to think this is happening every day. More importantly, this is completely 100% preventable! Nothing is worse than the loss of your own child, but when a child’s death is preventable or unintentionally caused by a family member, caregiver or someone visiting, words cannot begin to express the incomprehensible pain and devastating distress a family will endure. I wish I could erase seeing the child death certificates and hearing from grieving families about these heart wrenching preventable tragedies from my days working at the LA Department of Health and Hospitals, which is forever engraved in my mind. I write and share with you today in an effort to raise awareness. Knowledge is power; educating the public is key in preventing these horrific incidents. I want to make sure this never happens to you or someone you love.
Backovers and Frontovers
It is appalling to think that one of the most horrendous, unimaginable accidents can happen in seconds within a few feet from the front door of your house. Sad but true: every year, thousands of children are killed or seriously injured because a driver backing up or moving forward (very slowly) didn’t see them. These incidents referred to as “backovers” and “frontovers” primarily take place in a driveway or parking lot. The loss of a child is completely devastating, but to make matters worse, 70% of the time with backovers, they involve another family member behind the wheel of the vehicle.
A driveway is supposed to be a “safe” place we let our children play. It’s where we find them drawing with sidewalk chalk, having fun with outdoor toys and where we teach them to ride their tricycles. However, driveways, no matter how safe you think yours is, in the blink of an eye can turn into a catastrophic event when vehicle meets child on impact.
According to the nonprofit organization, KidsAndCars, these are the statistics related to backover incidents:
- EVERY week in the U.S. at least 50 children are being backed over by vehicles: 48 being treated in hospital emergency rooms and at least 2 that are fatally injured.
- One year olds (12-23 months) is the predominant age group of children in these back over incidents.
- More than 60% of backovers involve a larger vehicle (truck, van, SUV).
- 70% of backovers involve a parent or close relative as the driver behind the vehicle.
You may be astonished on how these incidents can possibly even occur, especially in one’s own driveway. Can you ever remember as a kid a time when your parents ran over your toys laying around in the driveway? This occurred because ALL vehicles have blind spots/zones (the area you cannot see behind or in front of your vehicle from the driver’s seat). Guess what? Over the years, vehicles have gotten bigger (larger, longer and higher off the ground), and typically the bigger the vehicle, the BIGGER the blind zone! I remember right after we found out I was pregnant, my husband said, “time to get a SUV, in a crash, bigger always wins.” Unfortunately, any vehicle (big or small) will be no match when it comes in contact with a toddler or small child.
Remember, backover incidents occur mostly to children 12-23 months. Toddlers at this age have learned how to walk alone and are impulsive and unpredictable. They lack judgment and understanding of dangers. Children, especially toddlers, do not think about personal safety and do not identify boundaries such as sidewalks, driveways or parking spaces. These incidences often occur because a child follows a parent out the door, dashing into the driveway and running behind the vehicle to get into the passenger side without the driver’s knowledge. Hence the reason, backovers are more commonly referred to as “bye bye syndrome” because children run to follow the parent outside just to wave goodbye or the children think they have been forgotten. The parent, completely unaware that their child has followed them into the driveway, unintentionally runs them over.
How can we prevent this tragedy?
So what can we do as parents to ensure this type of tragedy won’t occur in our own driveways at home? Don’t back blind! Always take a few extra seconds to carefully do a walk around your vehicle before you put your car in motion. It seems we are always in a rush, remember to use your mirrors, and ALWAYS back up slowly. When I am preparing to leave my home, I tell whomever is watching my kids inside the house that I am leaving and to make sure their eyes stay on the kids and do a head count of which children are to be left home for double security. Pay attention to your rear visiability cameras in your vehicle if equipped or have them installed for a little extra peace of mind. Most SUV’s are now equipped with rear visibility cameras in models of 2010 and newer. There are many options available, check out KidsAndCars and click technology page for more information.
It is important to remember that ALL vehicles have blind zones. Therefore, backovers and frontovers can happen in ANY vehicle to ANY child in ANY driveway! Teach your children about what can happen in driveways and make it known they should NEVER play in or around any vehicle. KidsAndCars has been a lead organization for saving lives through education and public awareness campaigns as it relates to children left unattended in or around motor vehicles and a driving force in having laws passed to prevent these fatal events in an effort to save all children.