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Big SUVs- Little People - Keeping Kids Safe From Cars In Their Driveways

Posted by Jane Akre
Thursday, February 28, 2008 6:41 PM EST
Category: Protecting Your Family
Tags: Automobile Accidents, Wrongful Death, Defective Products

The Cameron Gulbransen Safety Act should address the causes of non-traffic fatal auto accidents that kill kids in their own driveways.

Image: Cameron Gulbransen


Today President Bush signed into law the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act.

It is aimed at regulating power window safety, rearward visibility and preventing rollaway cars, non-traffic auto accidents that kill nearly a child a day.

As cars get bigger, U.S. manufacturers have not built in the safety features that many European makers have.

In 2007, 230 kids were killed in accidents with big cars usually SUVs, more children than ever killed in non-traffic auto accidents. Many were killed in their own driveways.   

The bill was named after two-year-old Cameron who was killed when he was inadvertently backed over by an SUV driven by his father because the blind zone behind the vehicle made it impossible to see the boy.

The Today Show began reporting on this issue five years ago and updated the issue Thursday, demonstrating the problem: 

  • Parents driving over their kids in the driveway because they can’t see behind the usually large SUV
  • Kids who accidentally shift the car into gear while the car rolls away with them inside
  • Kids stuck in a power window rolling up because they have their knee on the switch

The average age of the victim is between 12 and 23 months. And in the majority of cases it is a parent, relative of close friend who is behind the wheel of the SUV. In some cases a pet can be the victim as well.

  • The Act requires The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) to begin crafting rules that would require power windows and panels to automatically reverse direction if there is something like a child’s head or pet obstructing the path of the window or panel. In the European Union (EU) 80 percent of cars already have auto-reverse sensors so there is no chance a little person or even a pet can be trapped.
  • The Act mandates that automakers put a camera in the back of a SUV so anyone backing up has clear visibility of what might be in the way.  Many foreign cars already have the improvement. During a backup, every vehicle has a blind spot but some are more than 50 feet long according to Consumer Reports. 
  • The act requires that the vehicle service brake be engaged in order to shift out of park. That means an adult must have their foot on the brake peddle so the vehicle does not unintentionally shift into reverse or neutral allowing the car to roll downhill with a little person inside.
  • The legislation also establishes a database on injuries and deaths in non-traffic and non-crash events as well as a child safety information program to update parents on these hazards and the new technology to prevent them.  

Expect the phase-in to take from four to eight years.

The Gulbransens and at least 21 other families whose children were killed or seriously injured in non-traffic vehicle accidents threw their support behind passage of the bill as did a broad coalition that included Kids and Cars, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Public Citizen, Center for Auto Safety, CFA, NCL, the Trauma Foundation, and Consumers Union.#


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