5 On Your Side

New Technology Can Help Prevent Accidental 'Runovers'

Posted April 10, 2007 9:36 p.m. EDT

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.