By watching TV commercials, it seems that rear-facing backup cameras are all the rage in new trucks and SUV’s. They are supposed to reduce the risk of hurting a child, animal, or anything else that can be behind the vehicle but is short enough that you can’t readily see it through the rear window. But back over injuries or fatalities may not really be as big of a problem as the commercials would have you believe, particularly when compared to the number of child fatalities that are caused by children being improperly restrained- not using a seatbelt, booster chair, or car seat. The article also argues that the cost of the cameras may not be justified because back-over injuries are not as big of a problem as people think.
According to the article, in 2011 “back-overs” caused 79 child deaths. You cannot minimize 79 dead children. Each one is a tragedy. Everyone in Baltimore cried with Todd Heap after his tragedy. (Not for nothing, but it probably saved some injuries and lives. I know I back into my garage very differently as a result.) And I would push back on the idea that backup cameras are not worth the $2 billion. Consumers like them, and they are saving injuries and deaths every year under any calculation.
But in the same year, 371 unrestrained children under 15 died in car wrecks. I only see these backup cameras in new, usually expensive vehicles. If I am reading the graph in the article correctly, if backup cameras were required in all new vehicles, the estimated cost would be over 2 billion dollars a year. I wonder what it would cost (if it’s even possible) to install something that wouldn’t let you drive the car if a child was unbuckled or unrestrained?
I have been a personal injury lawyer for about 22 years. During that time I have handled hundreds, actually thousands, of car accident cases. Many of those cases involved cars that had children in them. In my entire career, I have never had a case where a child was seriously injured or killed in a crash when they were wearing a seat belt, or where they were in a car seat or booster chair. Not so much for unrestrained kids. The worst thing I have seen was a dead child on the floor of a minivan, right next to the car seat that nobody bothered to buckle him into. I can’t imagine how the parent looks in the mirror every day. Don’t be that parent. Make sure your kids are safely secured as the law requires. And while you are at it, buckle yourself too. As many as 59% of people between 23-44 who die in automobile crashes were unrestrained at the time of the crash.