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Keep Children Close to Avoid Back-Over Accidents in Massachusetts This Holiday Season

We posted on our Boston Car Accident Lawyer Blog last December that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) had plans to pass a final rule that all vehicles would be required to be equipped with backup cameras by 2014.
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We make note of this because our Boston car accident attorneys want to remind parents, babysitters, caretakers and motorists to keep a watchful eye for children and elders as this time of year is particularly dangerous for back-over accidents in Newton, Cambridge, Waltham and throughout Massachusetts. Driveways filled with vehicles at family gatherings and shoppers backing out of jam-packed parking lots can make it difficult to see little ones or elders located behind the vehicle. These two age groups don’t react as quickly to a moving vehicle which puts them at considerable risk of getting run over when they are in a vehicle’s blind spot.

Almost a year later, the proposed back-over regulations have hit the news again. According to a recent article in Bloomberg Businessweek, the NHTSA expected to issue a regulation by year-end but they are getting some backlash from the automobile industry. Those opposed feel it is just another attempt to over-regulate by the federal government.

The NHTSA reports that each year approximately 300 people die and another 18,000 are injured in back-over accidents nationwide. The installation of cameras or video in vehicles up to 10,000 pounds could potentially cut the number in half. One woman tells her personal story when last April she was headed out to run errands. She started to back the car out of the garage and felt a bump. She gets out of the car and horrifically discovers that she just ran over her 19-month-old son who had inadvertently escaped from the house without her knowing.

The massive national debate essentially comes down to money and putting a price tag on lives saved. The government has estimated that it will cost automakers roughly $2.7 billion annually to have cameras placed in the 16 million cars being manufactured each year. This averages out to roughly $18.5 million per life saved. Can they honestly put a price tag on the value of a life when safety should be their only priority?

According to an auto-market research company, back-up cameras have been included as a standard feature in 45 percent of 2012 passenger cars. One overlooked problem is that different model cars have different areas that aren’t visible to the driver in the car. A driver’s height also plays a role in determining a blind spot. For example, cars that sit low to the ground like a coupe can have a blind spot as low as four feet compared to a bigger SUV, which can be 20 feet or more. So, the ‘one-size-fits-all’ “Band-Aid” fix doesn’t work when it comes to preventing back-over accidents with a rear-view camera used universally in all vehicle makes and models.

One thing we can do is use extra caution, especially when backing out of garages, driveways and parking lots this time of year. KidsAndCars.org offers these tips to keep children from being injured or killed in a back-over accident:

-Become an expert at using your rear-view mirrors. Always adjust them to your visual vantage point each time you get in the vehicle.

-Be aware that blind zones vary with different vehicles. Families with multiple vehicles should determine blind spots for each driver in each vehicle.

-Remove all toys from the driveway and instruct your children that the driveway or garage is not a play area.

-Hold your child’s hand as you walk through a parking lot.

-If you see a driver’s reverse lights on, stop and stay clear as they back out of the driveway or parking space.

-Never assume a driver going in reverse sees you.

If you or your child has been injured in a back-over accident in Suffolk, Bristol, Plymouth, Worcester or Essex Counties, contact the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman, LLC for a free appointment to discuss your case. Call 1-877-617-5333 to speak with an experienced car accident attorney today.

Additional Resources:
The Price of Preventing Back-Over Deaths, by Angela Greiling Keane, Bloomberg Businessweek.

More Blog Entries:
Snowstorm Provides Peek into Winter Forecast and Risks of Car Accidents in Massachusetts, Boston Car Accident Lawyer Blog, November 1, 2011.

Mandatory Backup Cameras Could Decrease Fatal Boston Car Accidents, Boston Car Accident Lawyer Blog, March 28, 2011.