Family Car Advice: Prevent Backovers And Keep The Kids Safe

August 16, 2011

With summer winding down and parents busy getting the kids ready to go back to school, it’s a good time to reinforce some practical driver behavior to help prevent backovers and save children’s lives.

The dangers of backovers are very real. Thousands of children are killed or seriously injured every year because a driver backing up simply didn’t see them. Backover incidents typically take place when a car is backing out of a driveway or a parking place.

Here are the facts:

-      Every week in the U.S., at least 50 children are backed over by vehicles. That’s 2,600 children each year.

-      Forty-eight are treated in hospital emergency rooms each week.

-      At least two children are fatally injured each week.

-      Backover incidents predominantly involve very young children, one-year olds (12 to 23 months).

-      More than 60 percent of backover accidents involve larger vehicles such as a truck, van, minivan or SUV).

-      In more than 70 percent of these tragic incidents, a parent or close relative is behind the wheel.

Blindzone, not blind spot

The national safety advocacy organization is calling for all agencies to formally adopt the use of the term “blindzone” rather than “blind spot” to describe areas that a driver cannot see when slowly backing up or moving forward in a vehicle. The reason is that consumers are confused when the area behind or in front of a vehicle is referred to as a blind spot because the phrase has traditionally been associated with the area beside a vehicle that can contribute to crashes during lane changes. The number of different safety technologies currently available and under development to address the issue of blind spots actually adds to the confusion about what specific area around a vehicle is being referred to as dangerous.

The term blindzone differentiates the area behind that can contribute to backovers, as well as the area in front of the vehicle that can result in frontovers) from the area beside vehicles that lacks visibility during lane changes.

In backovers, it’s more than a spot that’s involved, and the magnitude of the danger is greatly increased. Since most vehicles, on average, have a blindzone behind them measuring approximately seven to eight feet wide and twenty to thirty feet long, the use of the term blindzone is much more accurate than blind spot. 

Both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Consumer Reports, a national leader in evaluating vehicle safety, have agreed to incorporate the use of the term blindzone when describing the area behind and in front of the vehicle that lacks visibility.

KidsandCars preventing backovers

KidsandCars preventing backovers

Enlarge Photo

Tips to keep children safe from backovers

Common sense plays a big part in how to keep small children, and even pets, from being injured or killed by an accidental backover. Still, having a handy checklist of recommended things to do to be proactive can help. offers the following:

-      Before getting into a vehicle, starting it up and moving it, walk around and behind it.

-      Make sure you know where your children are. If they’re out in the driveway playing, instruct them to move away from the car and off to a location where you can clearly see them before you move the car. Also make sure that an adult is supervising the children, again, before you move the vehicle.

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