How Kids Get Hurt in Non-Traffic Accidents
Not all automotive dangers to your children happen on the roads. Some can occur in your own driveway. “Non-traffic accidents,” as they are known, result in hundreds of fatalities and 95,000 injuries a year for children 14 and under.
Generally, the risk of injury and death is greater with young children. They often cannot be seen by the driver when they are in front of or behind a vehicle, and they do not fully understand the consequences of their actions, such as “hiding” in a car trunk or pretending they are driving.
The Most Likely Perils
Even the most careful parent may not be aware of the many dangers for their children in and around motor vehicles. Here are the major dangers to children from motor vehicles that don’t occur on the road:
- Backovers. Sadly, this is one of the most frequent reasons for child non-traffic fatalities. Many backovers injure or kill children under the age of two, who have learned to walk but who are hard to see. Larger vehicles (SUVs, trucks, vans), which have bigger blind spots, are involved in 60 percent of backovers. From 2013 through 2017, 32 percent of non-traffic fatalities among children 14 and younger were the result of backovers.
- Frontovers. This is the other most likely reason for a child’s non-traffic death. A “frontover” happens when someone pulls forward rather than backward—the opposite of a backover. Again, children under the age of 2 are the most likely victims, and more than 80 percent of frontovers involve larger vehicles. From 2013 through 2017, 32 percent of non-traffic fatalities among children 14 and younger were frontovers.
- Heat stroke. In perhaps the most tragic of accidents, busy parents simply operate on autopilot, fail to notice that their child is still in the vehicle, and leave them behind. If you are a new parent and tired and stressed, your child is especially vulnerable. Heatstroke has killed kids in vehicles where the external temperature was as low as 60 degrees. From 2013 through 2017, 20 percent of non-traffic fatalities among children 14 and younger were caused by heat stroke.
- Vehicles set in motion. Kids left in a vehicle who are not strapped into a seat can get bored and set a car in motion while playing. This tragedy can also occur when kids get into a vehicle by themselves. From 2013 through 2017, 4 percent of non-traffic fatalities among children 14 and younger were caused by vehicles set in motion.
- Underage/unintentional driver. Your kids are always watching you, and one of the things they often want to emulate is driving your vehicle. Kids are also naturally curious; some as young as 4 have attempted to drive a family car. From 2013 through 2017, 4 percent of non-traffic fatalities among children 14 and younger were caused by underage or unintentional drivers.
- Other causes. These consist of power-window accidents, falls off vehicles, trunk entrapments, vehicle fires, hypothermia, carbon monoxide poisoning, and car thefts while the child is in the car. While these accidents are rarer than others, they are no less deadly. Falls off of or out of vehicles accounted for 2 percent of non-traffic fatalities among kids 14 and younger from 2013 through 2017. The rest of the accident causes accounted for 6 percent of non-traffic fatalities among kids 14 and younger during the same time period.
Suggestions for Avoiding Tragedy
The following ideas could help prevent heartbreak:
- Young children do not understand the risks involved. Make sure you know where your children are before you or someone else moves a vehicle.
- Educate yourself about “blind zones.” Every vehicle has a blind zone, sometimes up to 25 feet long. The shorter the driver and the larger the vehicle, the bigger the blind zone. Remember, it is impossible to avoid striking something you can’t see.
- When you are distracted and tired, your brain’s basal ganglia take over, meaning that you will operate according to habit (on autopilot). It can mean a fatal situation on a hot day if your child is along.
- The danger of a rollaway vehicle is greater if your car is older than model year 2010, because it will lack something called brake transmission system interlock (BTSI). You can verify on your own whether your vehicle has BTSI installed.
- Don’t leave your keys around for your kids to grab, tempting them to try to drive your car.
We know you do your best to keep your children’s safety “top of mind.” But sometimes injuries and fatalities occur because of another party’s reckless actions. When it happens to your child, seeking legal counsel so that the negligent party bears the financial burden can be a wise move.
At McNeely Stephenson, when others breach their duty, we keep ours.
If someone’s negligent or reckless actions have caused injury or death to your child, it is your right to seek compensation in a personal injury lawsuit, but it is critical to have a knowledgeable and trustworthy legal professional representing you. We suggest you talk with the Indianapolis personal injury lawyers at McNeely Stephenson. Both Mike Stephenson, with his more than three decades of experience, and Brady Rife, with his diverse experience in personal injury litigation, will commit to the highest standards of client care.
Our Indianapolis child injury lawyers are willing to go the distance and fight on behalf of you and your loved ones. We offer free consultations and would like to discuss how we can be of service to you. Call us today or, if you prefer, use our confidential online contact form.