Preventing Backover Deaths

Jun 2, 2010

By Staff writer State Farm™ Employee

One of the most heartbreaking of all accidents is a backover death, caused by a vehicle usually one parked in a driveway backing over an unseen person behind the car. The victim is commonly a child or an elderly person.

Any area around the vehicle that the driver can't see, either directly or through a side or rearview mirror, is a blind spot. All vehicles have blind spots, and the blindest of all is at the rear of the vehicle. Children are especially vulnerable when walking or playing behind a parked vehicle, being small and unlikely to be noticed by the driver from inside the car.

According to the nonprofit organization Kids and Cars, 44 percent of non-traffic fatalities of children under 15 were caused by backovers and another 17 percent by frontovers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that more than 7,000 injuries annually result from backovers.

Tips for avoiding backover accidents

Look all around before you get in the vehicle. No matter where you are parked, always walk around the vehicle and look underneath it, too, before getting in and starting to move it. If there are children playing nearby, count them and make sure, before you back out, that you can still see all the children.

Listen. Turn off the radio and keep windows rolled down so you can hear, as well as see, what's going on around you.

Be prepared to stop. A tragedy can happen in a heartbeat. Always back out cautiously and with complete control over the car, and be ready to stop instantly if needed.

Do not rely on cameras and sensors alone. Controlled tests have demonstrated that cameras and sensors mounted on SUVs and other large vehicles, while helpful, are not foolproof in detecting children playing or crossing behind the vehicle. Detection results vary according to several factors, including the number and position of the children (such as a child pausing at the rear corner of the vehicle), weather conditions, slope of driveway or street, and so on.

Teach children not to play near cars. Don't allow the driveway to become a playing area, and be sure your children are taught never to play near, under, inside or behind a vehicle of any kind.

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