Christmas Day turned tragic for 1-year old Marice Love and his family of Clewiston, Florida. The child was critically injured when his 22-year old aunt, Necie Love, backed her car over him. According to the Florida Highway Patrol, the accident occurred at 4:00 PM on Christmas Day. The boy is now in intensive care at Lee Memorial Hospital in Fort Myers. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Marice Love and his family.
Sadly, back over accidents like this is are not unusual. Every year, thousands of kids are critically injured or killed by a car backing up when the driver does not see the child. Most often it is a family member or friend behind the wheel.
Frequently, back over accidents occur in the driveway of the child’s own home. Most of the children who are injured or killed are less than two years old. Ms. Love was behind the wheel of her 1992 Mercury Marquis, but more than 60% of the time, the vehicle is a large SUV or truck. That means the higher and longer the vehicle the less visibility drivers have when reversing.
Like many cars still sold today, Ms. Love’s Marquis was not equipped with a rear backup camera. Our country needs to make a universal rear visibility standard, requiring all motor vehicles sold, leased, or operated in the U.S. to be equipped with backup cameras.
With 2 children dying from back up injuries every week and more than 2,400 kids treated in emergency rooms for back over injuries every year, I cannot understand why it is not mandatory now.
In 2008, President Bush signed a law that would require car manufacturers to improve the visibility of all new vehicles by 2011. It has been five years, and the standards have not yet been mandated by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has extended the deadline three times. His latest promise is that the rules will be initiated in February 2013. I urge him to keep his word.
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) any vehicle can be retrofitted with a back up camera. The cost is only between $58 to $88 for a car or truck equipped with a dashboard display screen and $159 to $203 for those without them.
We have investigated hundreds of Florida back up car accidents for over twenty years. They are by far the saddest and most painful for the families involved. First, because the victims are always very young children; and second because the driver is usually the victim’s parent.
I believe that these types of accidents can and should be preventable by something as simple and inexpensive as a back up camera. If you are currently driving without a back-up camera installed in your vehicle, I recommend that you contact your local dealer or mechanic about installing one today. To learn more about back up car accidents and how to prevent them visit KidsandCars.org.