Back-over auto accidents are often some of the most devastating events for victims and their families, often causing serious injuries and deaths. Sadly, back-over car accidents typically involve young children ages one through four who were sitting, playing or walking near or behind the vehicle. These types of accidents are also more devastating because the driver is often a family member or close friend.
A recent fatality occurred last week while a Detroit man was washing his car. He decided to back up the vehicle unaware that his one-year-old daughter had crawled out of the house and behind the vehicle. The baby was taken to St. John’sHospital where she was pronounced dead on arrival. Is this another consequence of political gridlock?
In 2008, Congress passed the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act, which required the NHTSA to expand the driver’s rear-ward field of view to allow drivers to detect pedestrians who are in, or who may be entering, the area behind the vehicle and avoid striking them. The Department of Transportation (DOT) was to issue a final rule by February 28, 2011, yet more than five years later the law has still not taken effect. Why? The DOT has granted itself an extension on four separate occasions; the latest delay extended the final ruling until January 2015. This rule has been delayed as manufacturers and their lobbyists propose other alternatives and complain of the costs to implement the rule. Automakers say that consumers should have the choice which safety features to pay for. The same automakers opposing the mandate say that the cost would be approximately $160 to $200 per vehicle. Isn’t a child’s life worth more than 200 bucks? The benefits clearly outweigh the cost; hundreds of lives saved, thousands of injuries prevented. It is scary that this simple fix is so difficult to execute in our political system.
Since the law was passed, NHTSA reported that there have been over 1,100 deaths and 85,000 injuries in back-over accidents; an average of 220 deaths and 17,000 injuries per year. This delay is unacceptable and continues to contribute to the tragic and unnecessary loss of life. How many children will be seriously injured or die from preventable back-over accidents before January 2015; how many if there are continued delays?
Every parent, every grandparent, every citizen, should, at a minimum, demand immediate action. Write every politician who represents your state, city or district. Demand that they pass this bill, immediately. Voice your concern; get involved.
Even if, or when, the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act becomes law, as consumers continue to purchase larger vehicles – SUVs, minivans, pick-up trucks – it can be near impossible to have all blind spots covered. Janette E. Fennell, president of KidsAndCars.org, the only group that tracks back-over deaths from news and other reports, stresses the need for parental supervision in preventing such tragedies. “Parents need to make sure children are being properly supervised,” she said. Drivers must remember that no technology can, or should, replace full attention and vigilance when backing up. Always know where your children are before you start your car and make sure you check that there is no one behind you before you back up. The kidsandcars.org offers these safety tips to help reduce the risk of back-over accident:
- Walk around and behind the vehicle prior to moving it.
- Know where your children are and keep them in full view while moving the vehicle.
- Teach children that parked vehicles can move and that the driver may not be able to see them.
- Consider installing rear-view cameras and/or some type of back-up detection device.
- Measure the size of blind spots behind any vehicle you drive. Example: A 5-foot-1 driver can have a blind spot about 8 feet wide by 50 feet long.
Lawsuit Financial is on the forefront of these issues, and will keep you informed should anything change in this regard. In the meantime, you can also get involved by going to KidsAndCars.org.
Mark Bello has thirty-seven years experience as a trial lawyer and fifteen years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit funding industry. He is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation which helps provide cash flow solutions and consulting when necessities of life litigation funding is needed by a plaintiff involved in pending, personal injury, litigation. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Member of Public Justice, Public Citizen, the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.
Attorney, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series—Mark Bello is also the CEO of Lawsuit Financial and the country’s leading expert in providing non-recourse lawsuit funding to plaintiffs involved in pending litigation. He is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.