When referring to a “blind spot” in a vehicle that prevents what the driver can see from the driver's seat, most people usually assume that means in back of or to the side of the car. But there is a very dangerous, large blind spot in the front of a lot of vehicles that is the cause of hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries, usually involving kids.
A safety advocacy organization called KidsAndCars has been monitoring the statistic of those hurt or killed because they could not be seen while directly in front of a vehicle. They call these types of occurrences “frontover” accidents, and feel the trend is rising quickly because of many more people buying larger SUV's and trucks.
Most SUV's and pick-up trucks are designed with a passenger compartment that is higher off the ground, and that's exactly what causes the blind spot. When a driver is high up off the ground and the vehicle has a long hood, it creates a blind spot in front of the vehicle. People may proceed forward without seeing a child who may be in the blind spot.
KidsAndCars reports that there are around 3,000 kids injured annually and about 60 deaths caused by frontover accidents, although they suspect the number is actually higher. The have been tracking that type of accident for decades, and report that there has been an alarming 89% increase of incidents in the current decade over the previous 10-year period.
An Indiana television station conducted their own frontover accident safety test, and the results were shocking. The station had SUV owners sit in their vehicles while they had children sit down in a straight line directly in front of it. One test participant reported that it was not until the 8th or 9th child was added to the line that could see anyone in front of their vehicle. The owner of a Cadillac Escalade said they did not see any kids in front of her car until the 13th child was added to the line. That equals about 15 feet from the front bumper of the SUV. “Terrifying” and “eye-opening” were just a few of the reactions expressed by the SUV owners. Even mini-vans and smaller SUV's were found to have the same problem, with the Honda Odyssey showing a 5'8” blind spot, and the Hyundai Tucson showing a 5'4” blind spot.
Even when there is a child standing right in front of some SUV's, the hood and grill area can be more than 4' off the ground, which is taller than an average 7-year old.
Technology Helps, but Only if it Works Correctly
Years ago, the government addressed a similar problem with blind spots behind vehicles, and many cars are now equipped with a “back-up camera” so the driver can see what is behind them before reversing.
But even though many new vehicles come with a front-view camera as well as a back-up camera, they do not always help.
One driver in the television station's test said she relies on her front-facing camera in her Chevrolet Traverse 100% of the time, and it was one of the reasons she purchased that vehicle. But the Cadillac Escalade owner said her vehicle's front-facing camera “served no purpose” because it did not go on when she shifted into drive, began to move forward or during parking. She said she did not even realize the camera was there.
Attorney Logan Goldberg points out how easy it is for a child to end up in front of a vehicle's blind spot. “Maybe the father is just running out the door to go on a quick errand, and their child runs out the door after them. They may end up in front of the vehicle without the father seeing them,” he says. “Kids may be playing in the driveway directly in front of the family SUV and someone gets in without looking first, and accidently runs over the kids – that happens far more often than people realize.”
Always Check Before You Go
If your vehicle is not equipped with a front-view camera – or even if it is – it is recommended to always take a walk completely around the perimeter of your vehicle to make sure no one is in your path. Safety advocates also recommend taking a headcount every time you arrive at or leave a location in your car to account for all of your passengers. This is similar advice to keeping something critical like your cellphone, for example, in the back of your car if you have kids in the back seat to make sure you do not accidentally leave them in the car. (That habit also results in the added safety measure of not being able to text or use your phone while driving.)
As personal injury attorneys in Southwest Florida, we've seen many examples of horrific results following a serious car crash. But it's hard to fathom the devastation involved when a parent is responsible for the accidental death of their own child or a neighbor's child.
Always check around your whole car before you head out – it could save a life.
Our attorneys always welcome your questions about any legal issue, and can be reached at 239-461-5508, or by completing this short form.
For more information, visit www.KindsAndCars.org.