September means back to school season. This season comes with school zone traffic, lowered speed limits, crossing guards, carpools, and children walking everywhere. Due to their size and personalities by nature, children are at an increased risk of being injured as pedestrians. Large vehicles often have blind spots that make seeing tiny humans difficult, if not impossible. This is particularly true when a child darts out of nowhere, moves from a prior stationary position, or is standing close enough to your vehicle that they are in your blind spot.
Accidents where children are backed over by vehicles have received significant media attention given a new law developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In response to the unsettling statistics that there are an estimated 210 deaths and 15,000 injuries associated with backover crashes annually, the NHTSA is working to require drivers to improve their line of vision in their vehicle. This will be accomplished by effectively requiring cameras in every passenger vehicle.
Improving Youth Pedestrian Safety by 2018
The process of improving child pedestrian safety began in late 2007. In 2008, Congress requested the NHTSA design a rule to increase the necessary “field of view” in nearly all passenger vehicles given an increase in reported back over accidents involving children. Lawmakers named the bill the “Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act” (Act) in honor of Cameron Gulbransen, a two-year-old whose father accidentally ran him over in the family driveway.
The negotiation process has been long and frustrating for proponents of the Act, prompting a lawsuit being filed in September 2013. The Act initially required the Department of Transportation to finalize a rule by 2011, but multiple delays have pushed that back all the way to 2015. Proponents of the Act and families affected by back over accidents filed suit alleging an unreasonable delay in the rulemaking process. As of now, the rule will not be final until 2015 and vehicles will have until May 2018 to make changes to be in compliance with the law. That makes the effective date over a decade after this process began.
In the meantime, car manufacturers will have to make the transition to accommodate for the new law. Current camera systems remain flawed; there have been reports of back over accidents involving children even when such cameras were used. The amount of research that has gone into determining how to most effectively use cameras in vehicles has been costly, time-consuming, and is likely a primary reason behind the delay. There have been discussions of cameras replacing our rear view mirrors entirely – technology that will require time, training, and patience as the process continues. The best thing to do for now is to warn your children of the dangers of the road, make sure you are with them at all times near busy streets, and take a look around your car before getting in and backing up.
What if it’s My Child?
If your family has lost a child as a result a back over accident, or if your child has been injured, our attorneys at Solnick & Associates can help you through this difficult time. Serving the greater Philadelphia area, our experienced car accident lawyers are ready to counsel you through this unimaginable time. Contact us today.