Every year, children are injured and killed because drivers (in some cases, parents) don't see them while backing up. According to KIDS AND CARS (www.kidsandcars.org
), a nonprofit group that works to improve child safety around cars, at least 50 children are backed over every week in the U.S. Forty-eight are treated in hospital emergency rooms and at least 2 children die. There were 474 fatal backover accidents between 2001 and 2006, which represents almost half of all non-traffic fatalities that involved children.
A contributing factor is that larger vehicles (SUVs, pickups, and minivans), which have become increasingly popular, have larger blind zones than passenger cars. A blind zone is the area behind a vehicle that a person can't see from the driver's seat.
To help consumers understand how large some blind zones are, Consumer Reports
has measured the blind zones of a number of popular models. The results for both an average-height driver (5 feet 8 inches and a shorter driver (5 feet 1 inch) are listed in the accompanying charts.
To measure the blind zones, a 28-inch traffic cone was positioned behind the vehicle at the point where the driver could just see its top. As the illustration shows, longer and taller vehicles tend to have significantly larger blind zones. (The shading shows the length of each blind zone; lighter for an average-height driver, darker for a shorter driver.)
Your best defense against backover accidents is to get out of your vehicle and check behind it just before you back up. If kids are nearby, make sure you can see them while backing up.
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