The Very Real Dangers when Vehicles Are Backing Up

At some point, everyone who drives a car needs to back it up. It may be when parking, leaving a driveway, or simply maneuvering a vehicle. It can be difficult to drive in reverse, even at a very slow speed. With limited visibility, it is more difficult to perceive and avoid obstacles behind the driver. The possibility, therefore, exists of hurting someone, even a child, while backing up. According to injury attorneys who help clients deal with this type of devastating accident, most backing up incidents can be prevented if drivers are careful, attentive, and alert.

Statistics – Backing and Back Over Accidents

According to the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration (NHTSA), there are at least 500,000 backing accidents of some type every year in the U.S. Of those half-million accidents, 15,000 include some type of injury and approximately 210 deaths – mostly children aged five and under (31% of all fatalities) and elderly people aged 70 and over (26%).1 Up to two children every week are killed in the U.S. by back over incidents.2 Sadly, most of these events (70%) occur with a parent or family member behind the wheel.2 Besides children and elderly people, some back over accidents also involve pets.

How Do Backing Accidents Happen?

More people are behind the wheel of larger vehicles than every before, in part due to the popularity of midsized trucks, minivans, and sport utility vehicles. This is significant, as studies of back over accidents report that as the size of the vehicle increases, so does the likelihood of it being involved in this type of incident. Up to 70% of all backing accidents involve these type of vehicles2. Injury attorneys caution that the larger, longer, and taller vehicles have larger blind spots, a fact that many drivers do not realize.

Preventing Backing and Back Over Accidents

Attorneys experienced in these cases note that it is easy to prevent backing accidents that cause injuries, death and property damage, since they are most often caused by poor observation. A driver should know their vehicle’s blind spots and the distance that they cover to back up safety and prevent many if not all of these accidents. Drivers must constantly be looking for people or things behind them with enough time to verify a clear path before putting a vehicle in reverse. If there is any doubt, drivers should get out of their car to check the area to prevent collision or injury to someone behind the vehicle. It is likewise important for drivers to back slowly and be prepared to stop immediately if necessary.

It is helpful to know that technology exists to help drivers back up. Rear-view camera systems are now available on many vehicles to give drivers a better picture of what is behind them. Many vehicles are also equipped with back-up sensors which alarm drivers of obstacles behind the vehicle. In March of 2014, NHTSA announced a requirement that by May of 2018, all new vehicles weighing less than 10,000 pounds must be equipped with rear visibility technology.1 Experienced injury attorneys caution that drivers should not rely solely upon rear-view cameras and sensors but should maintain habits of proper lookout and caution when backing a vehicle.

Not all car accidents happen at a high speed on the open road. Backing accidents typically occur at very low speeds, often in a person’s driveway. Attorneys who help clients receive compensation for injuries related to backing up incidents offer some important advice: It only takes a few extra seconds of caution to avoid a tragedy that can come from a backing up accident. All driver must exercise safe backing procedures – and ensure the way is clear before proceeding.


1NHTSA: Final Rule Requiring Rear Visibility Technology, March 31, 2014

2Kids and Cars: Dangers of Backovers Fact Sheet

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