FOX 9 Investigators: Backing Up Blind - KMSP-TV

FOX 9 Investigators: Backing Up Blind

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It was two years ago when we first saw Colton Emmert in news video. He was in the back of a squad car and oblivious to what had just happened.

Colton's grandmother, Kim Emmert, died pushing him in a stroller at the end of July. They were passing a neighbor's driveway when a driver in an SUV started to back up and didn't stop until he hit Emmert. The 49-year old grandmother managed to push the stroller, with Colton inside, out of the way before being run-over herself. Colton was not injured.

Tragedies like this happen far more often than you think. According to national safety group Kids and Cars, at least two children die and nearly 50 others are injured every week in "back over" accidents across the U.S.

In Minnesota, there have been at least 20 people who have died in these types of accidents since 2001. In Wisconsin, the number is 12.

The majority of back-overs include children, but even the number of recorded incidents in Minnesota is uncertain because the state does not keep statistics on how many children or adults are involved in these types of accidents. Below is a clickable map of fatal accidents involving children that have been tracked in Minnesota according to Kids and Cars.

 

Limited visibility is a common thread in these accidents: Driver's aren't getting a good look, even if they try. Sight-line problems in vehicles can be caused by head rests, spare tires on tail gates, spoilers and narrow back windows.

The FOX 9 Investigators asked a local day care to help demonstrate limited visibility in vehicles. While Cathy Jones, the day care's co-owner, sat in a non-running vehicle with eyes closed, we placed eight kids directly behind the vehicle she was sitting in.

When Jones turned to look through the back window and check all of her mirrors, all she could see was the top of one child's head. She had no idea there were seven others behind the vehicle.

"I am horrified at how many kids were back there and I didn't even see them," said
Jones.

The view from a car on a sloped driveway is even more telling.

Again, Jones was behind the wheel of a vehicle that was not running. This time, two small kids, not more than 3 feet tall, were behind the car. When Cathy checked her mirrors and the back window, she couldn't see either child until they were 40 feet behind the car.

There is a solution to this problem. A camera can give drivers a second pair of eyes in the back of the vehicle. Some new cars have the cameras built into them. For as little as $100 ,you can buy one to install in your present vehicle. Some even come with sensors that beep when there's an obstacle in the way.

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