RALEIGH, N.C. — Hundreds of children die every year when motor vehicles back over them.
In the Triangle last August, Davis Davenport, 7, died in Holly Springs after he was hit by an SUV.
A month later, Justin Saracha died in a similar incident in Durham. He was playing in the yard when a neighbor backed into him. He was two weeks shy of his second birthday.
In 2005, the latest year for which statistics are available, nine children died in our state in accidental back-overs. North Carolina is working to prevent this type of tragedy.
During a demonstration Friday at New Bern Avenue Daycare, state Insurance Commissioner Jim Long sat behind the wheel of a mid-size car while the group called Safe Kids North Carolina lined up pre-schoolers behind the vehicle.
The kids squatted down, making themselves as short as they once were, and they became invisible to a driver.
“I can't see a thing,” Long said, gazing into the car’s mirrors.
Long said it's a warning to us all.
“You need to take the time, walk around your vehicle, make sure there are no kids, no pets, no toys behind you,” Long urged. “In fact, it takes just about five seconds to do that because, as you can see from this demonstration, you cannot see the kids behind you.”
SUVs present even more of a challenge.
“You've got to make sure you're clear,” said Dianne Farmer, whose son, Glenn, was one of the demonstration volunteers.
“It just makes you really worried, and you start to become paranoid—Where's my child? Is he in the car?—because you never know. You could think he's in the car. You think your husband put him in the car, and he's behind it, especially if you have a big SUV,” Farmer said.
Safe Kids North Carolina does not put blame on any make, model, or size of vehicle for the potential problems of accidental back-overs. The group just wants drivers to take a look around, and spot a tot, before they drive away.