As a parent, some things in life you never recover from.
Every year, nearly 300 people are killed and 18,000 more are injured when someone--often a parent or grandparent--backs over them. Nearly half of these deaths are young children under the age of five.
That's more than two kids killed per week. Over time, those numbers add up.
So today, as required by Congress, the Department of Transportation is proposing a new safety measure to help eliminate the blind spots behind passenger cars and other light vehicles that can lead to tragedy when a driver is reversing the vehicle. And I am proud that DOT is taking this step to prevent backover deaths and injuries.
No matter how skilled a driver you are, you can't avoid hitting what you can't see. By increasing your field of vision, this rule will save lives.
Courtesy ABC / Good Morning America
Today's proposal was mandated by The Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act of 2007, passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bush. This law directs the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to issue a standard improving the ability of drivers to detect pedestrians in the area immediately behind their vehicles, minimizing the likelihood of a vehicle striking a pedestrian while reversing.
Two-year old Cameron Gulbransen was killed when his father accidentally struck him while backing his SUV in the family’s driveway.
It's difficult to imagine backing out of your garage or driveway and killing an undetected child playing behind your vehicle. But Greg Gulbransen, Cameron's father, is a pediatrician. And the fact that a professional, well-versed in the risks children face, was involved in a backover tragedy should give you an idea of how easy it is--no matter how carefully you look--to not see people directly behind your vehicle.
That's exactly what this measure seeks to prevent.
It's clear that we're talking about our most vulnerable neighbors and family members, so I hope we can all agree that helping prevent these deaths is the right thing to do.
To meet the new standards, NHTSA believes automobile manufacturers will install rear mounted video cameras and in-vehicle displays. Other solutions, such as mirrors or various sensors, have demonstrated very limited effectiveness and would not adequately address the safety problem or meet Congress’s mandate to improve safety.
Of course, drivers should remember that whatever safety technology emerges will only be effective when a driver responds to its warnings. As NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said, "No technology can take the place of your full attention and vigilance when backing up."
And, as with all of our proposed rulemakings, the public is invited to submit comments about this new measure.
We're trying to save lives, so I urge you not to remain on the sidelines during the 60-day public comment period. The proposal--and information about how to submit your comments--can be found at http://www.nhtsa.gov/Laws-Regs.