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A Tragic Reminder of the Back-over Accident

In all likelihood, there was very little this family could have done to prevent what happened.

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In the U.S. News & World Report, the Associated Press reports that a two-year-old boy lost his life when a family member driving a Ford Expedition backed out of the driveway and presumably rolled over the boy. The boy had just days earlier celebrated his birthday.

Beatriz Valenzuela for the San Bernardino Sun quotes Fontana Police Sgt. Kevin Goltara:

"By all intents, this looks to be just a tragic accident."

Valenzuela describes how, just "a few yards from the police tape," kids played in the street while neighbors gathered to mourn the loss. She also quotes one of the neighbors, who said, "It reminds you that it can happen to anyone."

Indeed, the back-over accident, in which the driver simply does not see or realize that a person - small children especially - is behind the vehicle, can happen to anyone. In the Fontana case described here, the little boy apparently got out of the house, unknown to other family members, and at some point went behind the SUV. One can imagine the driver diligently checking the rearview mirrors, backing slowly out of the driveway, and yet colliding with the boy.

And these kinds of accidents are more common than you might think.

Back-up or Rearview Cameras

Some estimates report a yearly average of 18,000 people injured and nearly 300 people killed in back-over accidents.

Does technology make a difference? The answer appears to be yes.

A 2014 study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety showed that 100 percent of drivers who took part in the study hit a fake child cutout that was surreptitiously placed behind the vehicle. In this part of the study, the drivers did not have the benefit of rearview cameras or sensors on the vehicle.

For drivers who did have rearview cameras, the rate of a back-over collision with the cutout was reduced. More than half of drivers with rearview cameras hit the cutout - 56 percent - but that represents a significant reduction in collisions. (Vehicles with sensors, but no rearview cameras, were not as effective in helping drivers prevent collisions; roughly 90 percent of drivers in the study using just sensors hit the cutout.)

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