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Congress Did Their Part, Will You Do Yours?

Monday, February 18, 2008 |

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.
Finally, talk with neighborhood parents about backover incidents and ask them to teach their children not to play in or around any vehicle or driveway. By working together to promote awareness and protective home and neighborhood environments, we can help to keep all our children safe.

To learn more, please visit:

Kindly share this lifesaving message with your friends and family.

Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department


Anonymous said...

I'd like to see less of this stuff and more fire stories.

LAFD Media and Public Relations said...

Anonymous 2:10,

Thanks for the note. Please know that we seek to offer a cross-section of news and information about the LAFD, including the incident reports you mention - which are profoundly time consuming for our daily staff of one.

As such, those reports publicly share but a few of the LAFD's 116 daily responses to fires and fire alarms, the majority of which *thankfully* do not lead to serious injury or loss of life.

Whenever a fire incident escalates to Greater Alarm (8 or more Companies assigned, committed and working) or causes grave injury or loss of life, we produce the reports you see here.

Our mission similarly dictates that we offer information about safety and prevention, as well as sharing word of public events where we can come into close personal contact with those we are sworn to serve.

We understand that our on-line offerings don't always meet the needs of all we serve (i.e. what was that Fire Engine doing on my street?) but want you to know we're doing our level best with the staff and workload afforded us. If you'd like to discuss the matter further, please don't hesitate to call me via LAFD Headquarters at 213-485-5971.

Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

Brian Humphrey
Public Service Officer
Los Angeles Fire Department

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