Vehicles are an everyday part of life for most Americans, that are used every day to get people where they need to go. Its easy to see why vehicles are the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration estimates 262 fatalities and 115,000 injuries to children 14 and younger in non- traffic crashes each year.
The most common non-traffic, vehicular-related deaths occur from people driving or backing over pedestrians and vehicular heat stroke deaths. Non-traffic refers to events that occur off public roads or highways. Nearly 80% of non-traffic accidents involve children 15 years and younger.
People driving or backing over pedestrians account for about 64% of the non-traffic accidents including children 15 and under. Toddlers 12-23 months old account for 70% of the victims in those types of accidents. Janette Fennell, president and founder of KidsAndCars.org, associates this with what she calls the "bye-bye syndrome." Those young children don't want to be left behind by a parent or relative and often place themselves in dangerous positions around a vehicle where they cannot be seen. The exact same thing occurs when a parent returns home and the children rush out around the vehicle to greet them. Children so young do not relate the car as being a danger to them and often get too close. Younger children's height exacerbates the danger, especially when dealing with bigger vehicles, it is impossible to see what is around the car with all of its blind spots.
The federal government is in the process of developing and implementing a rear visibility standard for all motor vehicles. This bill was named after Cameron Gulbransen, 2, who was tragically killed in 2002 after being backed over by his father who was a pediatrician. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has released a proposed rear visibility standard that would require all motor vehicles sold or leased in the U.S. to come equipped with backup cameras by the year 2014.
16% of non- traffic deaths are related to vehicular heat stroke. Forty- nine children died in hot cars in 2010 making that the worst year ever for these accidents. On average thirty- eight children die each year of vehicular heat stroke. The most dangerous mistake a person can make is to think that something like this will not happen to them. Children should never be left alone in a vehicle. Even when the windows are cracked in a vehicle, temperatures can still reach 125 degrees in just minutes. Children left in cars on days with 60 degree temperatures have still proven deadly. Always be sure your children are out of the vehicle before leaving it.