Rear visibility targeted in child deaths
Legislation addresses U.S. 'epidemic' of children hit by reversing vehicles
A child advocacy group says a bill before Congress could help drivers avoid backing over children in driveways.
Four children have been killed in Hawaii in as many months in back-over accidents. The latest victim was 1-year-old Maylani Piper-Caravalho, a Big Island girl killed Friday.
The Cameron Gulbransen Kids and Cars Safety Act of 2007 would set rear visibility standards to help drivers see whether kids are behind their cars. The measure has been referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, which is chaired by Hawaii Sen. Daniel Inouye.
The death of a Big Island toddler who was run over by a car backing up on Friday is part of a nationwide "epidemic" that can be prevented with more education and tougher safety standards in the auto industry, contends a child safety group.
Maylani Piper-Caravalho, a 15-month-old baby from Holualoa in South Kona, became the fourth child in Hawaii to die from a back-over accident in as many months. Her death marked at least the 22nd such fatality in the country for 2007, according to Kids and Cars, a Kansas-based nonprofit organization.
HOW TO AVOID BACK-OVER ACCIDENTS
» Walk around and behind a vehicle before moving it.
» Move children away from your vehicle to a place where they are in full view before moving the car, and know that another adult is properly supervising children before moving your vehicle.
» Teach children that parked vehicles might move. Let them know that although they can see the vehicle, the driver might not be able to see them.
» Consider installing cross-view mirrors, audible collision detectors, rear-view video camera and some type of back-up detection device.
» Be aware that steep inclines and large SUVs, vans and trucks add to the difficulty of seeing behind a vehicle.
» Teach your children never to play in, around or behind a vehicle.
» Keep toys off the driveway.
Source: Kids and Cars
"She was a good baby, a pretty baby and healthy," said the child's grandfather, David Caravalho. "She never got sick. A perfect baby."
The girl was the youngest of six children, Caravalho said. He said the parents were "heartbroken."
Janette Fennell, president of Kids and Cars, is pushing for a bill before Congress that calls for better safety regulations on light trucks and sport-utility vehicles.
The legislation, known as the Cameron Gulbransen Kids and Cars Safety Act of 2007, would set rear visibility standards to help drivers see whether kids are behind their cars. It would also require the government to maintain a detailed data base on back-over accidents and launch an informational consumer program.
Senate Bill 694 has been referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, which is chaired by Hawaii Sen. Daniel Inouye.
Inouye, who has agreed to hear the measure this session, is waiting for a report by the National Highway Safety Administration on current technology for vehicle safety, said his chief of staff, Jennifer Sabas.
"It's such an emotional issue that he wanted to have clarity on the state of the technologies" before putting the bill on the agenda, she said.
Nationwide, about 50 children are hit by reversing vehicles each week, and at least two of them die as a result. Every year, more than 2,400 children are treated in hospital emergency rooms because of vehicles backing up or rolling over them in reverse, according to a 2005 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A parent or close relative is behind the wheel in more than 70 percent of the cases, the study found.
"Children could be in more danger in their own driveway than they are as a passenger in a motor vehicle," Fennell said.
Such incidents appear to have increased in recent years with the popularity of SUVs, pickup trucks and minivans, which have large "blind zones" that block a drivers' visibility by as much as 69 feet behind them, Fennell said, adding that these vehicles are responsible for more than 60 percent of the back-over accidents.
The last four back-over deaths in Hawaii also involved light trucks, SUVs or minivans.
In the accident on Friday, a 40-year-old Naalehu man who was picking up his son from a home on Mokuaikaua Road was reversing out of the driveway in a 2007 Honda Pilot when he ran over the toddler, police said.
"People really haven't been educated to understand how different those vehicles are from a sedan they might have been driving for 20 or 30 years," Fennell said.
4 HAWAII CHILDREN KILLED IN 4 MONTHS
Four children under the age of 2 have died in Hawaii since December after being run over by vehicles pulling out of homes. All the accidents involved sport utility vehicles or light trucks, which can block a driver's visibility by as much as 69 feet behind them.
» April 6: Maylani Piper-Caravalho, a 1-year-old in Holualoa, died when a 40-year-old man ran over her with his 2007 Honda Pilot.
» March 6: A 2-year-old girl died and her 4-year-old brother was injured after they were struck by a sport-utility vehicle backing out of the family's driveway in Punaluu.
» Feb. 10: A 2-year-old Big Island girl was killed when a pickup truck hit her in the yard of an Orchidland home.
» Dec. 14: A 1-year-old boy died after his 30-year-old father accidentally backed his minivan over his son in a Kaneohe driveway.