Abigail Dahlen, of Birmingham, Alabama, was just 2 years old when she went to retrieve a tennis ball in her neighbor's driveway. At the same moment, her neighbor was backing up in his SUV, headed out to pick up a pizza. Unable to spot the small child in his vehicle's path, the driver struck and killed Abigail.
Patrick Ivison, of San Diego, California, was just 14-months old when he and his mother were walking behind a car. The driver put his car in reverse, backed over Patrick, and trapped him underneath. Now 16 years old, he’s still paralyzed from the chest down.
Patrick, Abigail's mother Brandy, and several other families affected by these tragic back-over accidents spoke at a hearing yesterday about the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s proposed new rear-view visibility rule where we asked the public to tell us what they think.
“I’m not here today to complain about my life. I survived an accident that many others didn't. I am here to honor those children that didn't survive. I want to speak on their behalf so that the world understands that it's impossible to avoid hitting something you cannot see," said Patrick, who is an active athlete, participating in hand-cycling and even surfing.
The proposed rear-view visibility rule would eliminate blind zones as part of a landmark effort to prevent cars from backing over pedestrians. On average, there are nearly 300 fatalities and 18,000 injuries a year. A disproportionate number are toddlers and the elderly. We believe this rule can help save lives and prevent thousands of injuries every year.
The proposed rule follows the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act of 2007, which directed NHTSA to amend rear-view visibility standards. One of the worst things about these back-over accidents is that it often involves parents backing up over their own children in the family driveway.
The act was named for Cameron Gulbransen, who was just 2 years old when his father, a pediatrician, got in his car, backed up, and killed his son.
The courage and strength of Patrick Ivison, Greg Gulbransen, Brandy Dahlen, and all the other families who spoke at NHTSA’s hearing Wednesday is truly inspiring. I want to thank them for sharing their stories in an effort to save the lives of others.
And just because the hearing has already taken place does not mean it's too late for you to weigh in. We welcome your feedback on this important safety rule.