Kids being run over is preventable, man says
EAGLE COUNTY – As a radio reporter, Nick Isenberg wrote countless stories about children being killed after being run into or over by cars, trucks and vans.”It got so old anchoring these stories about people backing over kids,” he said. “It was usually parents that did it, and the kids were usually toddlers.”The story became so common that Isenberg noticed his town newspaper, The Glenwood Post, didn’t run the story when 4-year-old Jose Carlos Martinez was run over and killed by a lawn care truck in Edwards June 9.”They’re so common you don’t even hear about them anymore, but they can be prevented,” Isenberg said. Since 1977 Isenberg has been searching for an answer and found it in a simple camera set on the rear off a car with a monitor that could sit on the dashboard or under it. The catch? The $1,600 price tag. “No one would buy that,” he said. So Isenberg kept on searching and two years ago found an easy-to-install camera for under $100. “I want people to know these are available,” said Isenberg, who drives a Subaru Forester. “It’s such a simple system, and this one is cheap. I keep mine on all the time. I don’t want to back over kids, and it’s great for parallel parking.”Isenberg said he would like to see people get breaks on their insurance for putting a camera in their car, but a spokesman for Allstate said their policy is to provide car insurance discounts for drivers with clean records.”The discounts are not developed based on specific devices that you put on the car – not at this time – but it’s how safe as you are as a driver,” said Emily Pukala, the Allstate corporate relations manager for the West Central Regional Office.
Some companies that rely on trucks to carry out their business are catching on. UPS installed rear-vision camera systems in every one of its 88,000 delivery trucks five years ago, said Norman Black, a the company spokesman.”We’ve seen a noticeable decline in backing accidents of all types since our drivers have gotten these cameras,” Black said.A 1994 accident resulted in the death of an 18-month-old girl who had crawled out of her yard into the cul-de-sac, where a UPS driver did not see her. The accident spurred the company to look into the technologies at the time, but none were very effective. When some legislators began making proposals to require convex mirrors on every truck, UPS decided to do a second round of research in 1999 to prove the mirrors are ineffective. Black said they don’t work well at night, get knocked out of alignment and are susceptible to vibration and icy weather. The yearlong project involved testing convex mirrors, radar, sonar and the cameras in 1,000 delivery trucks. “When it was all said and done, it was very clear to us that back-up cameras were the most effective,” Black said. Besides the cameras, UPS drivers are also trained to avoid backing out, Black said. If it can’t be avoided, they are supposed to back into the driveway upon arrival and walk around the truck before they leave to make sure no one is playing nearby.
Janette Fennel, founder of the nonprofit organization Kids and Cars, collects data from around the country on the number of children who are run over by vehicles. In the 2 1/2 weeks leading up to Martinez’s death, 11 children in the United States had been backed over by vehicles and killed. The organization successfully lobbied Congress to pass a provision in the transportation bill last year that requires the government to keep track of non-traffic incidents – accidents that occur in parking lots and driveways – where many back-over deaths occur. “We’re showing over 100 children killed every year, but the real number is probably much bigger,” Fennel said. The group wants the government pass a bill to set a rear-visibility standard for vehicles, she said. They are also working on another bill that would get the government to look at different technologies to help prevent back-overs, such as additional mirrors, sensors and video cameras.”What people don’t understand is there’s no standard whatsoever that says what you should be able to see when you’re backing out your vehicle,” Fennel said.In some vehicles, even when mirrors are used properly, drivers cannot see some 30 to 40 feet behind them, she said.Visibility is worse in pick-up trucks, SUVs and vans, which are becoming more common, she said. Fennel said she thinks the increase in sales of larger, heavier vehicles has caused an increase in the number of back-over deaths.A study at the University of Utah concluded that a driver is 2.5 times more likely to hit a child when backing out in a minivan or truck than in a car. With larger vehicles, the child’s injury is also more severe. “With those vehicles, you’re having a much bigger blind zone where you can’t see kids,” she said. This applies to visibility in the front of larger vehicles, as well. There is a new trend where children are hit by vehicles moving forward driveways and parking lots, Fennel said. “Five years ago, there wasn’t really a problem with kids being hit in front of vehicles,” she said. =======================Donate to the Martinez familyThe Jose Carlos Martinez Memorial Fund was set up at Alpine Bank to help the Martinez family offset funeral expenses. Donations can be made to any Alpine bank or mailed to P.O. Box 2205, Edwards, CO. 81632. For more information, call 926-4811, ext. 3701. =======================Test: How big is your blind spot? Tools: a 28-inch-high cone and a tape measureMethod: Put the cone behind your car and drive back until you can only see the top of the cone. After you see the cone, measure the distance from the bumper to the cone to see how large your personal blind zone is. If you can’t conduct a hands-on test, visit http://www.KidsAndCars.org and check out the Consumer Reports chart that indicates the blind zone for 5′ 8″ and 5′ 1″ drivers. More than 100 different vehicles are listed.=======================Take a stand
Kids And Cars is trying to get 20,000 signatures on the Consumers Union petition to get a rearward visibility performance standard in place. Sign the petition at http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/982684985=======================Buy a car cameraFor more information about inexpensive car camera, visit http://www.SuperCircuits.com. =======================Causes of non-traffic deaths involving childrenBacked over by a vehicle (49 percent)Left in vehicle in hot weather (23 percent)Car set in motion by child (8 percent)Source: Kids and Cars========================Staff Writer Nicole Frey can be reached at 748-2927 or email@example.com. Vail, Colorado