Sometimes, you have to go backward before you can go forward. That’s both a true life lesson and a driving reality. However, when a vehicle back-up accident occurs, the injuries can be catastrophic and the results can be tragic. A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated that there are 292 annual backover fatalities and about 18,000 annual backover injuries. It also found that while children under the age of five and adults over the age of 70 represent around 30 percent of backover accident victims, they comprise more than three-quarters of the fatalities.
Why is this? Well, elderly people may not be able to move quickly out of the way of a reversing vehicle, and many toddlers do not appreciate the dangers of being near cars. Small children also can be very difficult for drivers to see. Many drivers are prevented from viewing objects that are behind them – especially those that are low to the ground — due to the large blind zones inherent in their vehicle’s design. SUVs and pickup trucks generally have a higher backover risk than cars because of these bigger blind spots.
Backing crashes can also consist of striking or being struck by another vehicle. While they don’t usually result in serious personal injury due to the low speeds involved, they can still cause major property damage and major inconvenience. Some of the ways that backing collisions occur include:
- Distorted views in mirrors and cameras
- Blocked views (landscaping, signs, etc.)
- Reliance on mirrors and cameras that don’t cover every area
- Moving backwards without looking to be sure the area behind the vehicle is clear
- Improperly adjusted mirrors
- Blind spots
- Trailer obscures backing area/turning while backing (boat trailer, tractor-trailer, trailer for an ATV, etc.)
- Distractions caused by bystanders, traffic, etc.
- Low visibility conditions.
Backing wrecks can happen in a variety of areas, from driveways to roadways, parking lots to loading docks. While parking sensors and cameras can be of assistance, they can’t solve every problem. For example, cameras are helpful only if actually consulted by the driver; they are prone to getting dirty, can be out of focus, and are largely dependent on weather and lighting conditions.
Despite the NHTSA’s regulation that requires manufacturers to phase in rear-view visibility systems on all new light vehicles, drivers should not rely solely on technology to prevent backing-up accidents. The only way to know for sure what is behind you is to get out and look, then proceed slowly though deliberately before another impediment has a chance to appear. At a minimum, drivers should continue checking side and rearview mirrors, and look over their shoulder. And never go in reverse when the rear window or mirrors are covered with frost, snow, ice, or any other visual obstacle.
If you or someone you love has been hurt as a result of a back-over accident, or, if you have more questions about this topic, trust your case to the Macon, GA-based Mann Law Firm. We serve all of Middle Georgia, including Dublin, Warner Robins and Milledgeville. We understand the potential complexities that a backing-up collision can involve, and we offer a free, no-obligation consultation. Contact us for a thorough case evaluation by calling (478) 742-3381 or by filling out our online form.