It’s Not Child’s Play in a Driveway

How is this for a nightmare? As difficult as it might be, imagine running over a child in your vehicle. Disturbing, right?

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.

The Statistics

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?

driveway drawingSo 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.

What are some things you do to keep your kids safe in your driveway?



  1. This happened to a family I know. The mom accidentally backed into her son who was playing with his skateboard in the driveway. Fortunately, the skateboard took the brunt of it, taking on the weight of the vehicle when the car backed over it. So the son only had minor injuries. But what a terrifying ordeal!
    I live in an apartment complex, so I’ve been super careful backing up ever since. So many kids around.

    • Christine, thanks for sharing this story and taking great precautions when backing up at the apartment complex where many kids are present. All of us should always remember to do a walk around our vehicle when at home, grocery store or any parking lot.

  2. I have been to one of these calls and it is truly heartbreaking. Everyone needs to become fanactical about child safety and certainly around vehicles. Take you time, walk around your car, we call it the circle of safety, make sure everyone is accounted for, secured inside ,doors locked, before you get in your car and leave. It only takes a few extra seconds but it will prevent a tragedy!

    • Thanks for reading and sharing with us about the “circle of safety”. I think these days we always tend to be in a rush, and just stopping and taking those few extra seconds to do a complete walk around the vehicle could prevent a tragedy!

    • Kerrry, thanks SO much for the reminder of the “Spot the Tot” program. It is an excellent resource and wonderful teaching tool to show parents the dangers of blind zones behind vehicles. I used the “Spot the Tot” program many times when I did community events with Louisiana Safe Kids and you are right, a REAL EYE OPENER!

  3. My in laws always back into their driveway, it take a little longer but it might be a good option for some, depending on the layout and the possibility of neighborhood kids.

    • Great idea Carrie. I would still encourage a complete walk around the vehicle before getting into since we know there are many frontover incidents that happen as a result of blind spots that are still present when driving forward in a vehicle as well as when backing up.

  4. Unfortunately I know a family who lost a son to a back over. Absolutely heartbreaking. It’s my worst nightmare. Thank you for posting this.

    • Malorie, thanks for reading and sharing. I can’t imagine how devastating this situation is for all involved. I saw today, there was another incident where a toddler was killed in New Orleans. I hope everyone takes a few extra seconds to walk around their vehicles.

  5. Hey Jamie, I’m a parent of a child who has died from a back over and it’s something that I would never forget. On October 30, 2013 my son was killed by a man backing up his dump truck.

    • Vondie, I’m so saddened and sorry to hear this tragedy happened to your son. I cannot begin to imagine the pain and suffering you have encountered since this devastating accident occurred. Would you be interested in writing a post to share with our readers about what happened from your perspective? We would be honored to have you share your story with our readers, but we totally understand if this is something you are not comfortable writing about as well.

  6. My neighbors across the street have a small driveway, practically no yard, and several very young children. I moved in nearly two years ago. My driveway is long, wide, and sloped. I have only met the mother briefly once, and have never met the father. It started a few months ago…..Dad brought the oldest three to the lower end of my driveway for bike lessons. I gritted my teeth and told myself, “Isolated incident, let it go!” Nothing more for another month, then Mom brought them over and rode with them for half an hour, while the oldest (probably 7-8 years old) rode 50 feet up to my garage door and beside my new vehicle, parked outside. I made a video of it, and vowed it had to stop. Very next day, Dad and Grandma were outside and allowed same child to ride up into my garage area again, and around my new vehicle, while they watched from the distance. I had no choice. I went out and called to her saying, “Honey, you can’t ride in my driveway.” I’m sure I’m probably the neighborhood meanie now, but how can someone assume it’s acceptable to send their children to play in another person’s driveway just because that person has more space?


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