You Never Expect It: Children in Pedestrian Collisions

When you think of car safety, you usually think of how a car reacts when it is in a traffic accident at an intersection or on a busy street. People rarely consider how safe a car is when it is not on the road. Unfortunately, most vehicles have blind spots and are not equipped to keep pedestrians safe in parking lots or driveways. Non-traffic collisions are common, which is spurring the development of new car safety gear designed to cut down on the number of pedestrian injuries.

Non-Traffic Collisions Happen Frequently

Hundreds of children under the age of 14 are killed in parking lot or driveway collisions with motor vehicles in the United States each year, while thousands more sustain injuries. The most typical pedestrian collisions happen when a child unexpectedly moves in front of or behind a vehicle before it begins to move. Smaller children are particularly susceptible to backing accidents. They fall below the driver’s line of sight, even when looking behind to back up. Even though the car is moving slowly, children can suffer severe injuries in these accidents because cars are so heavy. An unprotected pedestrian doesn’t stand much of a chance against a large automobile, no matter how fast the car is moving.

Legislation Introduced to Make Driveways and Parking Lots Safer

The death of Cameron Gulbransen, a 2-year-old who was accidentally run over in the driveway by his father, has inspired new legislation that is meant to force auto manufacturers to improve the parking lot and driveway safety features on new cars. The Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act would give the federal Department of Transportation the power to require automakers to install safety equipment to help prevent pedestrian accidents. The Act has been approved, but it is currently making its way through committees and faces several more years of discussion before it becomes a law.

Car Manufacturers Working to Prevent Pedestrian Accidents

Many automobile manufacturers are making safety changes ahead of any legal requirements or changes to the safety laws. Volvo has always prided itself on the safety of passengers, and now the automaker has begun to shift its attention toward the safety of people outside their cars. A new feature on the 2011 Volvo S60 uses radars and cameras to detect objects within a certain range of the vehicle. The alert system works day or night and sounds an alarm if it detects someone within the specified danger zone when the car is in motion. If the alert sounds but the driver doesn’t respond quickly enough, the car will automatically apply full brakes to avoid hitting the object.

Passenger Safety Better than Pedestrian Safety

Parents and car manufacturers have focused much of their attention toward the safety of children inside the automobile. New car safety seats, car safety features, and safety regulations have reduced the number of injuries and fatalities of children in traffic collisions. Proponents of the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act are hopeful that the new regulations could have the same positive impact on the injury and death rate of children outside the cars as well.


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