Parents: Please, please, please look behind your cars before you back up, because every year, hundreds of kids are killed or injured in tragic "back-over" accidents.
According to Kids and Cars, a nonprofit safety organization which tracks "back-over" accidents, 50 children a week are backed over by cars -- and among that number, two children die. Most victims are between 12 and 23 months old.
So far this year, at least 17 children have died after being backed over.
Children being backed over and killed is sometimes known as "bye bye syndrome," because it's often kids who are saying goodbye to relatives as they leave who are run over. More than 60 percent of back-over incidents involve a larger-size vehicle, such as a truck, van or SUV.
In 2008, the 5-year-old daughter of gospel singer Steven Curtis Chapman was killed in a back-over 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 ensure that another adult is properly supervising children before moving your vehicle.
• Teach children that "parked" vehicles might move. Let them know that even though they can see the vehicle, the driver might not be able to see them.
• Consider installing cross-view mirrors, audible collision detectors, a rear-view video camera and/or some type of backup 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 that's 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.
• 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 emergency 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 holidays, busy times, schedule changes and periods of crisis.