New vehicles must have backup cameras by May 2018, according to an NHTSA rule. And many new vehicles already include the safety feature designed to prevent back-over accidents where a vehicle backing up strikes a pedestrian, often a child. In fact, according to KidsandCars.org, 50 children are backed over every week in the United States.
Here are the top eight tips to avoid these preventable tragedies:
- Walk around your vehicle. Before backing out of a driveway or parking spot, walk around your car to check for anyone or anything that is near it. If you see that a ball has rolled under your vehicle, for example, you should look for a child who may run behind your car to retrieve the toy.
- Look under your vehicle. Children might like to hide under vehicles or might grow curious about what is under the family car. Look under the car before you back up.
- Use a spotter. If your street has lots of children playing near it, enlist another person to spot for you and signal you when it is safe to back out.
- Install a backup camera. If your vehicle does not already have a backup camera, you can purchase an aftermarket model and install it on your vehicle. Check your backup camera every time you back up.
- Park smarter. Choose parking spots that do not require you to back out to exit the space. If you are allowed to do so, pull all the way through so you can drive straight out of the spot.
- Know your blind spots. All vehicles have blind spots, even small ones. And larger vehicles have larger blind spots. Use all your mirrors when backing out, but realize that mirrors do not show the entire picture. Install blind spot mirrors to show your side blind spots, but be aware that they will not reveal what is behind your car. Always turn your head to look for children too.
- Do not leave children unattended in the vehicle. A child might slip the vehicle into gear by mistake, which could strike other children near the vehicle.
- Supervise children. Do not allow your children to play in an area with vehicle traffic, including driveways. If your children are playing in an area near vehicle traffic – even low-traffic residential neighborhoods – a parent should be there to supervise.
Do not get complacent. Follow these tips every time you back up in your vehicle. Never assume that a child is not behind your vehicle because no children live near your home, children should be in school during the day, or because you think you know your children are not outside.
Take these steps every time; it could help you form a habit that might save a child’s life.