Delayed Implementation of Vehicle Rear Visibility Requirements Constitutes Continuing Danger to Kids


October 09, 2013

While it may be difficult for a parent to imagine a more heartbreaking tragedy than a catastrophic head injury, spinal cord injury or death of one’s child, the realization that the parent caused the accidental death makes it even more devastating.  Although parents may presume that the risk of backing over a child playing in the driveway is a freak occurrence, almost fifty children per week are treated in emergency rooms across the U.S. following back over accidents, while another two children per week die in these collisions.  Although Congress passed legislation that was designed to mandate installation of backup camera systems in new vehicles to prevent these collisions, it has not yet been implemented.

The Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act that was signed into law on February 28, 2013 established requirements that automakers address blind spots behind the rear of vehicles.  While the legislation called for the installation of backup cameras in all new vehicles by 2014, the Department of Transportation (DOT) has repeatedly postponed submitting finalized recommendations to Congress according to a CBS New York report. 

The legislation bears the name of the son of Dr. Greg Gulbransen.  The pediatrician ran over his toddler son after the child darted into a blind spot behind the physician’s SUV.  In the wake of this tragedy, Dr. Gulbransen became a leading proponent of legislation requiring installation of backup cameras in motor vehicles.  According to the CBS report, implementation of the legislation has stalled because the auto industry is concerned about the costs associated with compliance.  The article indicates that some vehicle manufacturers contend that the rule should only apply to larger vehicles like SUVs, pickup trucks and vans.

While this legislation could significantly reduce the risk of accidents in which drivers back over kids present in vehicle blind spots when the law if fully implemented, there are millions of SUVs and other vehicles on the road that are not affected by the legislation.  Sixty percent of vehicles involved in back up accidents involve larger sized vehicles.  The popularity of larger and longer vehicles has increased the risk of backing up accidents because the blind spot behind these vehicles is larger than that of a passenger sedan that sits lower to the ground.

Drivers who fail to check behind a vehicle before climbing behind the wheel or to exercise heightened awareness when putting the vehicle in reverse in a driveway or parking lot pose a significant danger to young children.  The predominant age of children involved in backup accidents is between 12 and 23 months old.  Because children at this age do not comprehend the danger posed by motor vehicles, they frequently exercise poor judgment by darting behind a vehicle.  When motorists do not exercise diligence when they know kids are present, they may fail to notice kids who impulsively walk behind a vehicle that is backing up.

Although the Cameron Gulberansen Kids Transportation Act may reduce the frequency of such accidents once implemented, this legislation does little to make kids safe now.  Further, kids will continue to be exposed to the risk of back over accidents from vehicles manufactured prior to the requirements of the act even after implementation.  One solution that many people consider involves installation of an after-market backup camera to create rear visibility which can help prevent these tragedies.

If your child is injured in a backup accident, our Georgia motor vehicle injury lawyers at Montlick and Associates are available to provide effective legal representation to those throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including all smaller cities and rural areas in the state.  No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333).  You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Auto Accidents

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