Avoiding Accidents While Reversing: Are Backup Cameras Really The Answer?

Many car crashes are preventable, including collisions that occur while backing out of driveways or backing up in general. When drivers do not take proper precautions before backing up, children can be at particularly high risk of injury. In many cases involving child injuries and backing down a driveway, those drivers wish they had been able to see more clearly.

Given the seriousness of crashes that occur while drivers are backing up, many auto manufacturers have begun installing backup cameras and other devices that can help ensure that no one gets hurt while backing up. But simply having these features on a car is not enough. Drivers need to know what they are and how to use them.

The Hazards of Backing Up

When a driver reverses but does not pay attention to what is behind the vehicle, serious car accidents can occur. In numerous cases, these collisions involve pedestrians. And all too often, those pedestrians are children who were behind the car while it was backing up in the street or backing down a driveway.

Indeed, according to an information sheet from KidsAndCars.org, each year “thousands of children are killed or seriously injured because a driver backing up didn’t see them.” The organization refers to these accidents as “backover incidents,” and they often occur in two different circumstances:

  • When an automobile is backing down a driveway; and
  • When an automobile is backing out of a parking space.

While it might be difficult to imagine backing up without looking carefully, drivers do it with alarming regularity. But even when drivers do look before backing down a driveway, young children often end up in the blind zone or blind spot of the vehicle. Even a relatively careful driver may not see a child who is sitting or crouched behind an automobile.

How often do such accidents occur? The following are some important facts and figures reported by KidsAndCars.org:

  • Every week, at least 50 kids in America are victims of backover incidents, with approximately 48 requiring emergency department treatment for their injuries and two suffering fatal injuries. These accidents result in about 13,000 injuries and more than 200 fatalities annually.
  • The majority of victims are only 1 year old, or between the ages of 12 and 23 months.
  • Larger vehicles — including trucks, vans, and SUVs — are involved in more than 60 percent of all backover incidents.
  • In a majority of backover incidents (more than 70 percent) parents or close relatives are the driver of the vehicle.

What else do you need to know about backover incidents? According to a fact sheet from KidsAndCars.org, the following information is essential for preventing these serious collisions:

  • All vehicles have blind zones that can prevent a driver from seeing a child or other pedestrian while backing up.
  • The average blind zone of a vehicle is between 15 and 25 feet.
  • Shorter drivers have larger blind zones than do taller drivers.
  • Many drivers are not aware of blind zones and thus do not take extra precautions to avoid striking children who may be behind a moving vehicle.
  • Children can be uniquely affected by the “bye-bye syndrome,” which is the organization’s name for situations in which children do not want to say goodbye and follow a moving vehicle. Drivers often assume the child is safe inside the house, but the child has in fact darted behind the car.
  • Children, particularly young kids, do not understand boundaries when it comes to automobiles. Many younger children assume that if they can see a car that the car can see them.
  • Kids tend to be very impulsive, and they can run behind a moving vehicle without considering the consequences.

The Benefits and Limitations of Backup Cameras

Backup cameras may be one of the most useful tools for preventing backover incidents. Indeed, according to an article from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), rear cameras can help drivers to see children who are behind the car before it is too late. And rear cameras are, according to IIHS, “more effective than parking sensors at helping drivers avoid objects while traveling in reverse.”

The executive vice president and chief research officer at IIHS said that, “right now, cameras appear to be the most promising technology for addressing this particularly tragic type of crash, which frequently claims the lives of young children in the driveways of their own homes.”

However, there are limitations to backup cameras. Indeed, they cannot prevent all backover incidents from taking place. For instance, the IIHS determined that drivers using cameras still hit objects behind them in some of the following circumstances:

  • When those objects are in the shade.
  • When inclement weather affects the camera.
  • When bright sunlight obscures objects behind the camera.
  • When drivers do not use the cameras properly.

In other words, there are enormous benefits to backup cameras, but they are not foolproof. Drivers must acknowledge blind zone issues and be particularly careful whenever backing down a driving or backing out of a parking lot.

What to Do if You Have Been Hurt in a Crash Caused by Someone Who Was Negligent When Reversing

If you or someone you love suffered a serious injury in a backover incident, you may be able to file a negligence claim. You should discuss your case with an experienced Indianapolis car accident attorney to learn more about filing a lawsuit. Our personal injury law firm can help. Contact Sevenish Law today to learn more about how we can assist with your claim.