Every week in the US about 50 children are seriously injured by drivers failing to pay attention when backing up their vehicles. Kids and Cars reports that two children die every week from “backover accidents.” And Canada shares this tragic problem. The Globe and Mail tells a story about a Toronto father who reversed his car into his wife and eight-year-old son. His wife is in serious condition. His son is dead.

According to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), backovers kill 292 U.S. residents each year. And over a five year span from 2006-2010, backovers killed 448 children in the U.S.

KidsAndCars.org is a U.S. advocacy group that is pushing the U.S. government for rear visibility standards on all new vehicles manufactured in the U.S. In response to KidsAndCars, the NHTSA has stated that backup cameras will be compulsory for all vehicles manufactured in the U.S. by 2014. This follows up with mandates set in the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act, introduced for better safety standards in the U.S. after Cameron was killed by his father backing into him in their driveway.

But Canada has yet to introduce similar legislation. John McKiggan, a lawyer in Halifax, started a Canadian branch of KidsAndCars to advocate for legislation in Canada as “thousands of children have been injured by backovers in Canada and yet no one is trying to correct it, and no one’s even aware of the problem.”

Children are often struck by family or close friends who don’t pay attention when backing up. Larger vehicles such as SUVs and trucks also offer less rear visibility. Before the Transportation Safety Act comes into effect, the NHTSA offers the following tips to help keep your children safe around vehicles:

  • Teach your kids not to play around cars;
  • Supervise kids carefully when outside near cars and don’t keep toys in the driveway;
  • Walk around your car and check the area before backing up;
  • Back up slowly and always look behind you;
  • Don’t rely on electronic devices to alert you of what’s behind your vehicle -they can fail.

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Aimee King
Aimee joined Slater Vecchio LLP in February 2007. Aimee has represented clients in both the Provincial and the Supreme Courts of British Columbia.