Parents: Please, please, please look behind your cars before you back up, because every year hundreds of kids are bing killed and injured in tragic backup accidents.
According to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 100 children were killed and 2,000 were injured last year by being backed over. That's nearly two children a week who were killed in needless, preventable accidents.
Overall, the report found that 221 people were killed in 2007 by backing up vehicles, and a whopping 14,000 were injured. 99 of the deaths and 2,000 of the injuries involved children under the age of 14.
Children being backed over and killed is often known as the "bye bye syndrome" -- because kids saying "goodbye" to a relative as they leave are often run over. Over 60% of backover incidents involve a larger size vehicle, such as a truck, van or SUV.
Last year, the 5-year-old daughter of gospel singer Steven Curtis Chapman was killed in a backover accident in her driveway. One of Steven's teenage sons backed up in his SUV and did not see little Maria there behind him.
The organization Kids and Cars has a few recommendations to keep children safe:
• Walk around and behind a vehicle prior to moving it.
• Know where your kids are. Make children move away from your vehicle to a place where they are in full view before moving the car and know that another adult is properly supervising children before moving your vehicle.
• Teach children that "parked" vehicles might move. Let them know that they can see the vehicle; but the driver might not be able to see them.
• Consider installing cross view mirrors, audible collision detectors, rear view video camera and/or some type of back up detection device.
• Measure the size of your blind spot behind the vehicle(s) you drive. A 5'1" driver in a pickup truck can have a rear blind zone of approximately 8' wide by 50' long.
• Be aware that steep inclines and large SUVs, vans and trucks add to the difficulty of seeing behind a vehicle.
• Teach your children to never play in, around or behind a vehicle and always set the emergency brake.
• Keep toys and other sports equipment off the driveway.
• Trim landscaping around the driveway to ensure they 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.
• Never leave children alone in or around cars; not even for a minute.
• Keep vehicles locked at all times; even in the garage or driveway and always set your parking brake.
• Keys and/or remote openers should never be left within reach of children.
• Make sure all child passengers have left the car after it is parked.
• Be especially careful about keeping children safe in and around cars during busy times, schedule changes and periods of crisis or holidays.