Driveway backover accidents are a leading cause of child pedestrian incidents, child injuries and child fatalities in Washington State.

Driveway Backover Accidents: A Common Hazard In Suburban Environments

This week we covered the sad story of a 14-month-old Kent toddler who slipped out of his parents’ sight and out of the house. Minutes later, he was struck and killed by a neighbor who was backing her car out of her driveway and did not see the boy crossing behind her vehicle.

Unfortunately, this is far from an isolated incident. Driveway and parking lot backover accidents are all too common in the United States. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 221 people were killed in backover accidents like the one above in 2007 and another 14,000 people received serious injuries in these accidents. A majority of these killed and injured pedestrians were children.

How do backover accidents take place? Many of the accidents happen on quiet suburban streets where parents believe it is safe for their children to play outside on the sidewalks. Children could be walking, riding their bikes, or playing when an unknowing neighbor backs out of a driveway or garage, striking the child. In many cases, the children are too small to be easily seen by drivers, while in other cases, large SUVs or pickup trucks make it even more difficult for drivers to know if someone is directly behind their vehicle.

How can Washington State backover accidents be prevented?

•    Drivers should be aware of their surroundings – look around your car before getting in it and note if any groups of children are playing in the area.
•    Roll down your window so that you can hear if there is a child near your car before you pull out.
•    Back up very slowly – this could give the child time to move out of the way or cry out. It will also minimize any injuries that occur if you do strike a child.
•    If you drive an SUV or larger vehicle, be aware of your larger blind spots and increased dangers.
•    Make sure you have a clear line of sight from your driveway to the sidewalk, both so that you can safely back out of your drive and so that pedestrians can see your car approaching.
•    Teach your children about the dangers of cars – even parked cars – and explain how backover accidents happen.
•    Supervise your children at all times whenever they are playing near streets, parked cars, and other traffic.