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Q:
Do backover accidents occur often enough for me to be scared that my child will be run over when a neighbor backs out of his driveway?

A:

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety defines a collision as a “backover accident” when a vehicle’s rear collides into a pedestrian or bicyclist. These crashes often occur at low speeds, typically while the driver is exiting a driveway or parking spot.

Although backover collisions are sometimes confused with rear-end collisions, the term “backover” is reserved for when an vulnerable person is struck by a vehicle. In other words, accidents that involve multiple vehicles or result in a vehicle backing into an object are referred to as rear-end, not “backover,” collisions.

Although backover accidents can happen to anyone, of any age, the majority of reported victims are either very young (between one and five) or elderly.

  • Child risks. Many backover accident stories involve parents or family members backing out of the driveway and accidentally running over a small child whom they were unable to see. In many cases, the child was either playing in the driveway or came running behind the car to say goodbye without anyone noticing. Even if you check your blind spots and mirrors, you can easily miss the small frame of a child, especially if you’re not specifically looking for it.
  • Senior risks. Some may argue that the slighter frames of older pedestrians increase their risk of not being seen and thus increase their risk for a backover injury. Although their size can be a factor, it isn’t as significant a threat as their movement. Children go unseen because they’re little; older victims go unseen because they’re often hunched over and moving very slowly. When a driver doesn’t recognize movement, or believes that he has given the pedestrian enough time to clear his blind spot, he’ll assume the coast is clear.

Backing Up Your Concerns: Backover Statistics

Since backover collisions commonly occur in driveways, you may have a false sense of security that they don’t happen that often. Regrettably, estimates suggest more than 20,000 backover injuries occur each year. Data taken from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Not-in-Traffic Surveillance (NiTS) system, as well as emergency room reports and police records, suggest that backover accidents annually result in the following:

  • Severe injuries. Over 15,000 pedestrians and bicyclists require immediate medical attention for injuries sustained in backover collisions.
  • Deaths. Approximately 267 people are killed each year in backover accidents. Eight-four percent of the victims have not reached their fifth birthday.
  • Psychological distress. Backover crashes can be very traumatizing for the victim, the victim’s family, and the driver. In addition to the shock of the accident itself—residential sidewalks and streets are supposed to be safe—the pain, guilt, and fear that affects all those involved can have dire consequences. Regardless of how the incident occurred or who was to blame, the outcome of the accident can lead to depression, anxiety, PTSD, and guilt-related self-loathing.

No matter how you suffer, if you’re experiencing pain or injuries as a result of a backover accident, you need to seek medical attention. Treatments and resources exist that can help aid in both physical and mental trauma recovery. For more information, contact our office through our convenient live chat feature or by calling us at 713-921-4171 to schedule your FREE consultation.

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Steven M. Lee
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