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Backing-up car accidents put children in danger

Backing up a motor vehicle usually involves getting out of a driveway or parking spot. Our view of where we are going is not as good as when going forward, and if a driver does not take proper precautions, he or she could cause a car accident.

Many of these collisions are minor fender-benders. But far too often, a young child is struck by a car going in reverse because the driver failed to see him or her. Tragically, such accidents are often fatal. The federal government estimates that every week, nearly 40 children under age 5 are hurt by vehicles carelessly backing up. Two of them die.

Perhaps the worst part of these accidents is that often, the driver is a parent or other relative. The child may be playing in the yard and end up behind the vehicle. The driver does not notice, and a terrible tragedy is the result.

Clearly, rear-view and side mirrors and reminders to look behind you when going in reverse are not enough. Congress passed a law in 2008 requiring the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to create regulations to reduce backing up accidents within three years. Many advocates hoped that the NHTSA would require automakers to include rear-view cameras in all new vehicles.

But that did not happen. The agency proposed a rear-view camera rule, but never officially issued it, under auto industry resistance. Currently, the Department of Transportation has given the NHTSA until January 2015 to come up with some sort of regulation to fulfill the congressional mandate.

We hope that action can be taken to someday eliminate the heartbreak of a child hurt or killed by a backing up vehicle.

Source: Houston Chronicle, “How can this happen? Lives are shattered by accidental backovers while legislation languishes,” Susan Carroll, Sept. 21, 2013

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