Few accidents involving a motor vehicle in Hawaii can be more tragic than the case of a parent backing over their child in a driveway and leaving the child severely injured or, as happens far too often, dead. One would imagine that if there were an easy fix that could prevent many of these unnecessary deaths, it would be rapidly implemented as an essential safety item on all motor vehicles. One would, sadly, be wrong.
There is even a law, passed by Congress to help prevent these types of car accidents, and named for one of the children killed in this manner. The Department of Transportation (DOT) was to instruct the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to require the installation of backup warning systems on all vehicles by the 2014 model year.
The agency proposed making the cameras mandatory in 2010, but the industry has fought the requirement and the DOT has postponed implementation of the regulation pending more study. DOT now suggests the standard will be ready by 2015.
In the meantime, a few hundred more children will have been killed and thousands of people will have been injured. As cars are made larger, with less glass and thicker roof supports, visibility has steadily declined.
And children are not the only ones at risk, as anyone who has almost been hit by a large SUV backing up in a parking lot can attests. After small children, the second largest demographic killed in these accidents are adults older than age 70.
Given the incredible pain caused to a family where not only do the parents have to cope with the loss of a child, but carry the knowledge that the mother or father was responsible for their own child’s death, these regulation should be put in place as soon as possible.
Source: USA Today, “Administration sued over backup camera delay,” Fred Meier and Chris Woodyard, September 26, 2013