Before you put your car in reverse, keep this in mind—approximately 50 kids per week are backed over by a moving vehicle. That info comes directly from KidsAndCars.org, a non-profit child safety organization dedicated to preventing injuries and death to children in and around motor vehicles.
According to KidsAndCars.org, children under the age of 5 are at the highest risk for backover injury or death. In addition, over 60% of these accidents involve a truck or SUV. Although the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration has been tasked with improving visibility in these larger vehicles since 2007, these tragedies continue to occur year after year.
So how can you prevent a backover accident? Some very essential defensive driving techniques should be used every time you get behind the wheel to help keep your loved ones safe.
Whether you’re in a parking lot or your own driveway, take a minute to walk around your vehicle and check for obstacles before you climb in. Take a quick glance underneath as well. If there are children playing nearby, take a quick headcount and make sure you know where they all are before you back out. Let the kids or other adults know you’re about to back up so they can watch out for you.
Use Your Ears
Turn down the radio, roll down the windows, hang up the phone—take any step necessary when children are present to ensure you can hear everything around your vehicle. You might hear something or someone before you see them.
Remember Your Blind Spots
Just relying on your side and rearview mirrors is not enough. Even if your mirrors are properly adjusted, every car has blind spots on the sides and directly behind their vehicle. And these blind spots can vary in length depending on the size, length, and height of your vehicle.
Remember the standard back up technique you learned in drivers education? Before putting your car in reverse, first check your 3 mirrors. When you put your car in reverse, keep your foot on the brake until you have a clear view out the back window. You can achieve this by turning and facing the rear window. Place your right hand on the headrest of the passenger seat for support. Put your left hand at the top of the steering wheel and gradually release the brake to back up slowly.
Keep It Slow
Never rush in reverse. You might need to push on the gas in order to pull out of a parking spot or get your car moving on a flat surface, but there’s no reason to gun it. Being in a hurry is no excuse to sacrifice safety.
Upgrade Your Vehicle
Though some SUVs and trucks come equipped with back up cameras or alarms, these are still not standard in all vehicles. You can look into adding an aftermarket back up camera to your vehicle for added visibility. There are many varieties on the market and they can run you anywhere from $90 to $400.
More Safety Tips For Parents
While drivers are responsible for using safe driving techniques, as parents it’s important to teach our children what’s safe. The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration offers several tips for parents to help prevent backover accidents.
First, be sure your kids understand that playing on, in, or around cars is never safe. Never leave a car running and always lock doors, even in a garage, to keep children from accidentally putting a car in gear.
Even in the safest neighborhood, some driveways might be hidden by a fence, bushes, or trees, so don’t let your kids run ahead if you can’t see what’s coming. Hold the hand of small children when cars are present, and make sure your kids are supervised at all times.
Try to make the driveway a “no play” zone to keep kids safe. If you can’t keep them completely separated, add a barricade or sign that will prevent drivers from pulling into your driveway when children are present.
Finally, make sure everyone in your neighborhood is working together to keep your kids safe. Talk with your neighbors about backover accidents and encourage everyone to use caution. Teamwork could help keep your kids safe.