5 On Your Side

New Technology Can Help Prevent Accidental 'Runovers'

Posted April 10, 2007

Each week, an average of 50 children are hurt or killed when a vehicle backs over them. More are hurt in what are called "frontovers."

"It just happened," said Frank Chang, whose 2-year-old daughter, Talia, was run over while he was backing up. "It's something that I wish more people understood how easy it is to happen."

David Champion, who heads Consumer Reports Auto Testing, says people simply don't realize how big blind spots can be.

"In this relatively small Hyundai Santa Fe, I can't see 19 feet behind me," Champion said. "However, when I get out of the car, I see little Benny behind me. I had no idea he was there."

Many companies now market sensors and cameras designed to help motorists see what's in the blind spots around their vehicles, but factory-installed ones are usually expensive and after-market cameras can be hard to install.

But Consumer Reports found a wireless camera that will give you affordable extra protection.

Testers recently evaluated a wireless backup camera ― the $150 VR-3. The video screen sits on the dashboard.

"When you put the car in reverse, the camera automatically turns on, giving you the view behind," Champion said.

But the screen is small and the field of vision is narrow. Still, the camera provides added safety that might help you avoid a tragedy you otherwise might not be able to see coming.

Some car manufacturers are developing cameras that will give a 360-degree view around a car. The Federal government says requiring cameras or sensors would give drivers a "false sense of security."

Of course, the best prevention, experts say, is to make it a habit to check completely around your vehicle before you get in-- and do another round of checks before you actually move.


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  • broncoman2000 Apr 16, 2007

    Mrpearce you are so correct. I just dont understand why they would allow such unsafe vehicles on the road. All the massive vehicles are so unsafe because there is no visibility anywhere around them. If people would start riding motorcycles instead of these giant SUVs they would not only save lives, but also save the environment. It is so irresponsible to be driving these monsters that only get 15 mpg. My bike gets 50 mpg and I can see anything that gets close to me.

  • cnaatmg Apr 13, 2007

    I agree with Mr. Z people talk on there cell phone and don't have a clue what goes on around them

  • North Carolina Native Apr 12, 2007

    toddlers love greeting people and saying bye to people they should be held by an adult in full view before anyone backs up... it's so scary to even think about.

  • entryrejected Apr 12, 2007

    there was a article in the readers digest about this. It was very sad. But it got me thinking, I drive a 98 mitsubishi(sp?)eclipse and yeah its small but I bet my 2 year old goddaughter could be behind there and I would never see her. Shes always up my butt, it wouldnt surprise if she snuck out to my car because last time I seen her, she unlocked both locks and open the front door for me.

  • angora2 Apr 11, 2007

    You said it, Mr. Z! I drive I-40 every day and see people reading newspapers and talking on cell phones while driving 80+ mph. It is easy to tell which drivers are on cell phones by the way they change speed and weave about. As the police say, they drive just like a drunk drives.

  • MrPearce Apr 11, 2007


    SUVs are a very cheap way to move a lot kids/gear at once. I doubt minivans have a much better profile than even a large suburban. The machines are also generally safer in a collision (even with something its own size), at low speeds.

    What this really boils down too: Follow the drivers license handbook, published by the NC DMV. This book notes that you should check around your vehicle before getting in it and driving away.

    If you want full visibility, with no impediments, buy a motorcycle. You won't get it with any sort of car (at least not to pass the test you specify!).

  • Been there once Apr 11, 2007

    Its not just the size of the vehicle. I am 5'1" and drive a small car. The seat must be pulled forward and this creates more blind spots (window frames, headrests)for me.

  • anneonymousone Apr 11, 2007

    My mother saw a program that had children of varying ages and sizes lined up in an SUV's blind spots. The driver saw nothing to be concerned about while preparing to back up, but there were something like 13 children layered around the car.

    The problem is that these vehicles are mammoth. They're impossible to see around when trying to leave a parking spot, and I've been endangered by dozens while in motion. I usually ascribe that to arrogance on the driver's part, but I'm going to have to rethink that; the driver truly can not see my car.

    So why are they on the road and why do people drive them?

  • Mr. Z Apr 11, 2007

    Imagine that, It's a good idea to pull your head out of your butt and put the cell phone down before you drive! People need to pay attention when they are behind the wheel and quit trying to multi task! Accidents are going to happen no matter how careful you are, in driving and anything else!