The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently released its first report on the prevalence of non-traffic vehicular accidents. The report, titled “Not-in-Traffic Surveillance 2007,” estimates that a full 1,747 fatalities and 841,000 injuries occurred in 2007 as a result of both out-of-traffic crashes and non-crash vehicular incidents. This translates to over 33 deaths and 16,170 injuries each week from car accidents on private driveways and in public parking lots, with cars that are generally hardly moving.
The NHTSA report found that incidents in which forward-moving vehicles struck non-occupants, such as pedestrians or bike riders, accounted for about 393 fatalities and 20,000 injuries in 2007. Backover incidents were responsible for the deaths of 221 people and the injuries of 14,000. About 588 fatalities occurred when people were strangled by automatic windows, babies and children were left in hot vehicles to succumb to hyperthermia, people were poisoned by carbon monoxide, and people got caught in vehicle fires.
Janette Fennell, founder and president of KidsAndCars.org, the national nonprofit organization advocating for child and automotive safety said, “This is an important day, one that has been long in coming. The release of this report solidifies once and for all that focus must be placed on the interaction of consumers and vehicles…..no matter where an incident takes place. These data confirm what parents and safety groups have known for years that too many children were being killed in their own driveways and nothing was being done about it.”
“Passage of the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act in 2007 was the pivotal moment in changing how our society thinks about these terrible events,” said Jacqueline Gillan, vice president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, a coalition of consumer and insurance groups working for improved safety laws. “KidsAndCars.org and the dozens of parents and family members who struggled with us for several years to pass this lifesaving statute are credited with its success. Without their courage and dedication, this official data would not be collected and vehicle safety standards for better rear visibility would never happen.” This legislation, among other key provisions, directed NHTSA for the first time to collect data about motor vehicle incidents that take place off the public roads and highways. –Kids and Cars.
For over ten years, KidsAndCars.org has been pressuring the federal government to collect data about non-traffic car accidents, which typically happen on private property and off public record. The NHTSA’s official report signifies a huge step forward in government attention to the little known, and yet highly fatal, phenomenon of non-traffic vehicular accidents.
“My heart pours out to the thousands of families who have lost a loved one in these predictable and preventable non-traffic incidents," Fennell said. “Those children who have been lost have always been the inspiration for our work. We know all too well that the human body cannot win in a confrontation with an automobile.”
KidsAndCars.org recommendations to keep children safe include:
· Walk around and behind a vehicle prior to moving it.
· Know where your kids are. Make children move away from your vehicle to a place where they are in full view before moving the car and know that another adult is properly supervising children before moving your vehicle.
· Teach children that “parked” vehicles might move. Let them know that they can see the vehicle; but the driver might not be able to see them.
· Consider installing cross view mirrors, audible collision detectors, rear view video camera and/or some type of back up detection device.
· Measure the size of your blind zone (area) behind the vehicle(s) you drive. A 5-foot-1-inch driver in a pickup truck can have a rear blind zone of approximately 8 feet wide by 50 feet long.
· Be aware that steep inclines and large SUVs, vans and trucks add to the difficulty of seeing behind a vehicle.
· Hold children’s hand firmly when leaving the vehicle.
· Teach your children to never play in, around or behind a vehicle and always set the emergency brake.
· Keep toys and other sports equipment off the driveway.
· Homeowners should trim landscaping around the driveway to ensure they can see the sidewalk, street and pedestrians clearly when backing out of their driveway. Pedestrians also need to be able to see a vehicle pulling out of the driveway.
· Never leave children alone in or around cars; not even for a minute.
· Maintain control of power windows. Most cars come equipped with a "lock out" switch, which allows the driver — and only the driver — to operate all windows in the car.