What Drivers Need to Know about Backover Accidents

When it comes to avoiding objects while traveling in reverse, rear cameras are more effective than parking sensors. However, they are not helpful in every situation. Researchers recently conducted a study with drivers in an empty parking lot in Los Angeles. Their study results showed that cameras were more helpful than parking sensors in preventing backward crashes into pedestrians. They also found that cameras alone worked better in these situations than cameras and parking sensors combined.

Children are often the unfortunate victims of backward pedestrian crashes. There are many driveway tragedies of this nature every year in the United States. Experts estimate about 300 people are killed and about 18,000 are injured annually in backward pedestrian crashes. These accidents typically occur in driveways and parking lots. Elderly people and young kids are more likely to be killed than older kids or younger adults. Many vehicles have large blind zones, and this increases the backover risk. Trucks and SUVs are commonly involved in these accidents, because it is hard for drivers to see children who are playing or lying on the ground from a higher blind zone.

This study was the second study that examined parking sensors and cameras affecting visibility for backover collisions into pedestrians. The first study used people of varying sizes from small children to average-sized men in over 20 different vehicles. All of the vehicles chosen were made between 2010 and 2013. Researchers carefully looked at how each type of technology improved detection and visibility in each of these vehicles.

During their study, researchers placed a painted pole behind a vehicle to show the varying heights and head sizes of kids who were between 12 and 15 months, between two and three years and between five and six years. They analyzed which parts of the pole were visible. The pole with the band representing the youngest age group was far more difficult to see than the ones with bands representing older children. Unless the driver was further than 27 feet away from the pole, the smallest height could not usually be seen. Large SUVs were the worst offenders if they did not have any added technologies. However, small cars ranked the highest in this area of safety.

One exception to this was the Hyundai Sonata, which had a high trunk and a sloping rear window. The blind spot on this vehicle was more than 40 percent larger than the blind spot on a Ford F-150 truck, which had side mirrors designed for enhanced visibility while towing. On average, experts said that backup cameras reduced blind spots by about 90 percent. Parking sensors were also helpful in reducing blind areas. However, parking sensors only added between two and three percentage points beyond those provided by just cameras.

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