We often think of fatal accidents and roadway tragedies as awful incidents involving strangers, but 7 out of 10 of “non-traffic” deaths involving children are caused by a relative, usually a parent. That was the case on December 26th, when a Contra Costa County man backed his truck out of the driveway and, unwittingly, over his toddler son, killing the boy. Norris’s death was the second such tragedy in three days in Northern California.
All signs state that Malcolm Norris’s death was a tragic accident, but like most accidents, driveway back-up injuries and deaths are largely preventable. KidsAndCars.org is an organization committed to that kind of prevention by advocating for a new federal law that would require manufacturers to include cameras in the back of vehicles to eliminate blind spots.
According to the organization, 50 children are backed over in an American driveway each week, and two die. Over the last 20 years, nearly 200 children have died of being backed-over in California alone–more than twice as many as in any other state, and KidsAndCars cautions that these statistics are “vastly” under-reported.
Often, these accidents aren’t the result of a negligent parent backing up without looking, but a kid running behind a vehicle where the parent or driver cannot see.
Consumer Reports has found that pick up trucks like the one that ran over Malcolm Norris have a blind spot of 24 feet.
KidsAndCars tells parents they can keep from unintentionally backing over children by being sure not to become distracted between leaving the house and getting in the car. Often kids will run out through an unlocked door, or even a doggie door, while the parent is checking a phone or is otherwise distracted.
As Bonnie Lovette, injury prevention coordinator for the trauma services unit of Children’s Hospital Oakland, put it to the Contra Costa Times: “It’s all about continuity and closeness. Any time the risk increases, you must know where your child is — even if you have the other parent show you ‘here he is.”
The predominant age for back-overs are children younger than two years, who do not yet understand the dangers that cars present. This is especially troubling for anyone who drives near young children, as these kids are too young for parents to even educate.
That means it’s up to parents to keep everyone safe with vigilant driving habits.
To that end, here’s a fact sheet from KidsAndCars that lists some smart ways to keep kids–especially very young ones–safe around vehicles. Please take a look to learn more.
Photo Credit: Michael Cote