The University of Utah completed a study that revealed some startling results about the likelihood of children being struck by a truck or minivan backing out of a driveway. Researchers found that children are 2.4 times more likely to be struck by a van and 53% more likely to be hit by a truck than by a car. The study also found that children hit by trucks or minivans are more likely to require hospitalization, surgery, and treatment in an intensive care unit than children backed over by cars.
The research was conducted using medical records and police reports that provided back-over injury data for Utah children under age 10 from 1998 to 2003. The number of state-registered vehicles was used to determine if injuries were more common among certain types of vehicles. The researchers further discovered that driveway back-over injuries represent an incidence of 7.09 per 100,000 children younger than 10 years old annually. Passenger cars account for only 1.62 injuries per 100,000 registered vehicles. Previous reports have suggested that trucks and minivans produce a large rear blind spot, which makes them especially susceptible to this type of accident. However, this is the first study in the United States that has attempted to document the rate of injury by these vehicles.
The researchers emphasized the importance of educating parents and young children about the rules for safe play in driveways. They commented on the availability of rear cameras and sensors to warn a driver that a child or other obstacle is behind a vehicle. However, the study noted that there is no substitute for walking behind, or at least looking behind your vehicle before putting the car in reverse.
The federal government has also been working on this problem. Legislation pending in Congress would require the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to set a standard for rear visibility that all vehicles must meet. Larger rear-view mirrors, rear sensors that sound a warning beep or cameras are among the options.
NHTSA expects to complete work on a study on the various types of back-over technology within a couple of months. The purpose of the study is to examine how effective the systems are and how they are used by drivers. The information will then be used to establish a standard.