A recent report by NBC News examines the tragic and growing toll of “frontover” and “backover” crashes, in which a vehicle—usually a large vehicle like an SUV or pickup truck—drive over young children in their blind zones. As the report explains, data suggests that as many as 744 children were killed in such crashes between 2016 and 2020, with the deaths increasing “sharply” in 2020. Traffic safety advocates argue that the rise in frontover and backover fatalities is related to the increasing popularity of larger vehicles.
In order to combat frontover deaths, US Senator Richard Blumenthal introduced legislation earlier this month that would require motor vehicles to come with safety features like front-facing cameras and sensors. As NBC News notes, new cars are currently required to have rear-facing cameras, though regulations have yet to address the growing blind zones in the front of cars, which “can extend a dozen feet or more for some of the country’s most popular vehicles.” A recent test by NBC News found that “it took at least nine elementary school children sitting in a line for someone in the driver’s seat of four different SUVs and pickup trucks to see the top of a single child’s head.”
Unfortunately, bureaucratic red tape is likely to prevent any legislation from taking noticeable effect until long after it’s passed—perhaps as long as twenty years, the report suggests. This is partly due to the time it takes for policymakers to craft rules and regulations, but also due to the time it takes newly modeled cars to become commonplace. As NBC notes, after Congress passed a law designed to “improve rear blind zone safety” in 2008, ten years passed “before it fully went into effect,” and “it will still be years before the vast majority of cars on the road have backup cameras.”
In a statement t oNBC, the director of advocacy group Kids and Car Safety said, “It’s hard to understand why we’ve known this is a problem for so long, and we’ve had this solution sitting on a shelf that’s not being used everywhere in every car… There’s a solution out there, and yet families continue to bury their children.”
More information about the danger of frontover crashes, and legislative efforts to mitigate them, can be found via NBC’s report.
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