Protecting Children Because They Cannot Be Seen
On February 15, 2018, a 7-year-old boy, Bryant Sun, was run over and killed in a Covington parking lot. Bryant was sitting in the parking lot behind a car when the driver of a truck ran over him because he was unable to see the boy. A family’s lives are forever devastated and tragically, this is not an isolated case.
Every year, thousands of children are hurt or killed because a driver moving forward very slowly didn’t see them. EVERY WEEK in the U.S., at least 50 children are backed over because they cannot be seen. These incidents, for the most part, take place in residential driveways or parking lots and are referred to as a ‘frontover’ or ‘backover’ based on the direction the vehicle was traveling when someone is struck.
There is nothing worse in this world than the death of a child. However, what makes these types of tragedies even more unthinkable is that over 70% of the time, a parent or direct relative is the driver behind the wheel.
The predominant age of backover and frontover victims is one-year-old and children under age 5 are the most at-risk. Toddlers have just ‘gotten their legs’ at 12-23 months, but the concept of safety is absent. Children are impulsive and unpredictable; still have very poor judgment, and little understanding of danger. They do not recognize boundaries such as property lines, sidewalks, driveways or parking spaces.
Frontovers and backovers are often the foreseeable consequence of a child following a parent or loved one into the driveway without their knowledge. In fact, this scenario is so common in frontover and backover incidents that the term “bye-bye syndrome” has been created to describe it.
Backover and frontover tragedies are both predictable and 100% preventable!
KidsAndCars.org urges everyone to install a rearview camera and sensors on their vehicle. Many drivers [incorrectly] believe they have to wait until they purchase a new vehicle to have a rearview camera system; but an after-market rearview camera and / or sensors can be installed on ANY vehicle. They can be purchased and installed at your local auto shop, car dealerships and electronic or stereo stores.
Drivers should also heighten their awareness before engaging a vehicle into reverse; especially when children are present. Below are some additional safety tips for parents and drivers to help prevent backover and frontovers.
- Be extra cautious when people are coming and going from the home.
- Always walk around and behind a vehicle prior to moving it.
- Know where your children are. Make sure they move away from your vehicle to a place where they are in full view before moving the car. Verify that another adult is actively supervising children before moving your vehicle.
- Install a rearview camera, back-up sensors and/or additional mirrors on your vehicles. Use these devices in addition to looking around and behind your vehicle carefully to detect if anything is in your path before backing.
- Make sure children hold hands with an adult in parking lots at ALL times. If you have multiple children and not enough hands, create a hand-holding train or fasten the younger children into a stroller and make sure everyone stays together.
- Teach children that “parked” vehicles might move and make sure they understand that the driver might not be able to see them, even if they can see the driver.
- Teach your children to never play in, around or behind a vehicle. The driveway is not a safe place to play.
- If you have an adult passenger with you, ask them to stand outside the vehicle and watch for children or animals as you back out. Ensure they are a safe distance away from the vehicle so they are not in any danger.
- Keep toys, bikes and other sports equipment out of the driveway.
- Trim landscaping around the driveway to ensure drivers can see the sidewalk, street and pedestrians clearly when backing out of their driveway. Pedestrians also need to be able to see a vehicle pulling out of the driveway.
- Install extra locks on doors inside the home high enough so children cannot reach them and toddlers cannot slip outside on their own.
- Roll down the driver’s side window when backing so you can hear if someone is warning you to stop.
Be especially careful about keeping children safe in and around cars during holidays, family gatherings, hectic times and schedule changes.
Please share these important safety tips with your childcare providers, teachers, relatives, friends, family and neighbors…
These precautions can save lives.
About Amber Andreasen
Amber Andreasen is the Director and Volunteer Manager of KidsAndCars.org. Ms. Andreasen graduated from the University of Kansas (Go Jayhawks!) with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Welfare.
While working towards her degree, Ms. Andreasen worked at Community LINC in Kansas City, MO a transitional housing program to end homelessness, impact poverty and remove barriers to self-sufficiency for the families she served.
Ms. Andreasen has always had a passion for helping others. She has been a provider and steadfast advocate for the developmentally disabled in many different arenas.
Ms. Andreasen began her career in injury prevention with KidsAndCars.org in 2005. Ms. Rollins is responsible for the management of the day-to-day operations, major projects and coordinates KidsAndCars.org’s national volunteer network.
Ms. Andreasen currently resides in Olathe, KS with her husband, son, step-daughter, beloved cats (Jackson and Charlie)and dog (Star).