The U.S. Senate has passed a bill intended to prevent deaths due to "backovers", a situation where drivers back over children they cannot see behind their vehicle.
While this bill requires new vehicle standards for rearward visibility, the prevention of backover incidents will remain in the hands, ears and eyes of every motorist.
All Vehicles Have Blind Spots
In the case of a backover incident, the blind spot is the place behind your vehicle that you cannot see in the rear or side view mirror or even by craning your neck out the driver's side window. Generally speaking, the larger the vehicle, the larger the blind spot. Blind spots for shorter drivers tend to be significantly larger as well. In addition, the elevation of the driver's seat, the shape of a vehicle's windows and mirrors, and the slope of a driveway can affect the size of the blind spot behind a vehicle.
Technologies and Backover
At this time, no technology on the market is considered by experts to be foolproof in preventing backover incidents. Even if an accurate preventive technology is developed, it's important to remember that no technology alone can protect your children. Keeping your children safe from a backover tragedy requires education, supervision and vigilance. Los Angeles Firefighters recommend the following tips to help parents reduce the risk of backover incidents.
Safety Tips for Parents:
- Ensure your children are properly supervised at all times, especially wherever motor vehicles might be present.
- Teach children never to play in, under or around vehicles.
- Always assume children could be present and carefully check the street and driveway as you approach your vehicle. The LAFD always recommends a complete 'circle check' before you get behind the wheel.
- Avoid making your driveway a playground. If you do allow children in this area, make sure that it's only when there are no vehicles present. To further protect children who may be outside playing, separate the driveway from the roadway with some type of physical barrier to prevent any cars from entering.
- To prevent curious children from putting a vehicle in gear, never leave vehicles running or keys in the vehicle. Keep every vehicle, even those in your driveway and garage, locked up tight.
- When backing up, always know where all children are and have them stay together in your full view and well away from your vehicle. Don't even think of backing until your radio or entertainment system is completely off and your wireless phone is put away.
- Look behind you as you back out S-L-O-W-L-Y with your windows rolled down to listen for children who may have dashed behind your vehicle suddenly - and be prepared to stop!
- If you're driving an SUV, truck or van, remember that the blind spot behind your vehicle can be especially large: Use extreme care whenever you back up.
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Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department