While crashes that occur on roadways tend to garner the most attention, some of the most devastating traffic accidents happen when less than a few feet from your front door. Vehicles that are simply backing out of driveways, parking space or garage can result in fatal injuries if they backover someone directly behind them.
Most commonly, the victims are small children, who may go unseen near the rear of the vehicle, and the elderly, who tend to move at a slower gait. Bicyclists are another vulnerable road user.
Fort Lauderdale car accident attorneys at The Ansara Law Firm, represent pedestrians and other victims injured in backover accidents, whether on private or public property.The Scope of the Problem
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports every year, hundreds of children are injured or killed because a driver backing up did not see them. To break it down further, 50 children in the U.S. are backed over every week, with 48 of those seeking medical attention and 2 being killed.
In Florida, between 1990 and 2012, there were 71 children reportedly killed in backover accidents. There were a total of 1,152 nationally during that time, which means Florida accounts for 6 percent of the total.
These cases account for 13 percent of non-fatal traffic incidents in the U.S. involving children.
The vast majority happen in residential driveways or parking lots. Most victims are between the ages of 1 and 2, and tragically, about 70 percent of the time, it’s a parent or relative behind the wheel.
In 6 out 10 backover accidents, the vehicle involved is a larger-size vehicle, such as a sport utility vehicle, pickup truck or van. This is part of the reason these incidents have increased in recent years: We are driving larger, higher, longer vehicles.
The total number of backover victims is estimated by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety to top 18,000 annually. That does not include the estimated 300 people killed each year. About 26 percent of people who die in these cases are over the age of 70.
Our Fort Lauderdale injury lawyers have seen the heartbreaking outcomes of backover accidents, and it has toughened our resolve to fight aggressively for those families we represent.Government Takes Action
For years, safety advocates pleaded with the government to do something about this very serious problem. But the auto industry lobby is a powerful one, and change did not come quickly or easily.
Finally, in April 2014, the NHTSA issued a rule mandating rear visibility technology in all new passenger vehicles, light trucks and buses under 10,000 pounds by May 2018. The express purpose of this measure is to reduce the number of serious injuries and deaths caused by backover accidents.
The new standards are stringent, requiring the rear cameras to expand the driver’s field of vision directly behind them in a 10-foot-by-20-foot zone. The system has to meet other specifications regarding the size of images displayed to drivers, the amount of time the image will linger and limitations to deactivation.
A number of vehicles already come with this technology.
When the new technology becomes standard, the government estimates it will save between 58 and 70 lives every year.Avoiding a Driveway / Backover Accident
While this final rule is a good start to improving safety, it’s not going to prevent backover accidents entirely. The only people who can do that are drivers – and those behind them.
The NHTSA recommends the very best thing a driver can do to prevent something like this is complete a “Circle of Safety” sweep around the vehicle. It involves taking a moment to simply look around all of your tires, underneath the vehicle and in the general vicinity of either direction for any children that might be near your vehicle or just nearby in general.
If you do notice children near the vehicle, warn them to move before you start the ignition. If there are children around, keep your eye on them the entire time you are backing up. If you lose sight of them, stop immediately.
Never back out of the driveway in a rush. Those few extra seconds are not going to get you to your destination faster, but they could help you avoid a potentially devastating accident.
Drivers need to understand the blind spots of their vehicle, and recognize those areas are bigger in a bigger vehicle.
If there is landscaping that hinders your ability to see behind you as you pull out, trim it. Keep toys, balls, sports equipment and anything else a child might dart for out of the driveway and roadway.
Teach young children early on to always stay away from cars at all times.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a Fort Lauderdale car accident, contact the personal injury attorneys at The Ansara Law Firm by calling (954) 761-4011 or toll-free at (888) ANSARA-8.