The tragic issue of back over accidents can legislation help?

“Back-over” accidents have made news all over the country, as devastated parents, older siblings, other loved ones and strangers have inadvertently injured or killed young children while backing out of a driveway or parking spot. The United States Department of Transportation reports that there are about 18,000 people injured in back-over accidents each year, with nearly 300 deaths resulting.

Since the victim is often known to the driver – the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) estimates that the victim and driver are related in 70 percent of all back-over accidents – they have an especially hard impact on all parties involved.

Proponents of a device currently available as a feature in many newer-model vehicles claim that it can slash the rate of or even eliminate altogether these tragic car accidents. The device? The rear-view camera.

Like eyes in the back of your head?

Logically, having “eyes” in the back of the vehicle would make it much easier to determine if there are children, debris or other obstacles that would be struck if the car or truck were to move. An early detection system like this one could give the driver time to put on the brakes and give children, pets or other potential victims the chance to get out of the way.

Understanding the huge possible benefit offered by these cameras – and given that they are not universally cost-prohibitive (they only cost about $200 per vehicle to install) – some wonder why these cameras aren’t standard on every new car, truck, SUV and van rolling off the assembly line. That is a very good question, especially considering there is legislation in place to ensure that they are in every new vehicle.

The “Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act”

The 2008 Act honors young Cameron Gulbransen, a two-year-old whose young life ended in 2002 when his father, bill sponsor and now-activist Greg Gulbransen, backed over him. The law is designed to ensure that future car-versus- pedestrian accidents like the one that killed little Cameron don’t happen. The law was passed by Congress and signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2008, but the simple fact remains that hundreds of people a year – many of them children – are still dying.

Activist/watchdog groups like Public Citizen joined in a lawsuit filed against the USDOT for delaying rule-making that would make it mandatory for new all new cars to have the potentially life-saving rear-view cameras. The suit, filed on Sept. 25, 2013, sought a federal court’s mandate that Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx issue safety rules in 90 days.

In March 2014, The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a final rule requiring the cameras in all new vehicles under 10,000 pounds by May 2018. This puts the action eight years out from the passing of the original law.

Reaching out

Have you lost a loved one – or seen someone you care about seriously injured – in a back-over accident or another motor vehicle accident? Are you interested in more information about holding the responsible parties accountable for their actions? To learn more, seek the advice of an experienced personal injury attorney in your area.