There's something particularly tragic about the death of a young child. While every traffic fatality is tragic, it is especially difficult when a life is cut short so easily and when the victim is still so sweet and innocent. Unfortunately, child traffic deaths (and child traffic injuries) are all too common, with backup accidents posing a particular danger to the youngest victims. The pain of these devastating accidents is unfathomable and our Panama City child accident lawyer is committed to helping get justice for these young victims.
The News Herald reported on a tragedy that darkened an Eastpoint neighborhood on Tuesday afternoon at approximately 3:45 P.M. 25-year-old Jessica Lee Davis was backing out of a driveway on Russell Road, east of First Street, and failed to notice when a toddler stepped behind the 2004 GMC Sierra. Emergency responders attempted to revive 1-year-old Kelly Shiver, son of Brittney and Allen, and transported him to Weems Memorial Hospital. Unfortunately, he died from his injuries. A report filed by Trooper Paul Azrak of the Florida Highway Patrol indicates that neither Davis nor her passenger, 32-year-old Jason P. James, was injured. The report indicates that alcohol is not believed to have played a role in the accident.
KidsAndCars.org, a nonprofit founded by a crime victim, is dedicated to keeping children safe in and around motor vehicles, has chosen backover accidents as one of their focal issues. In their Backovers Fact Sheet, the group notes that thousands of children are injured or killed each year because a driver failed to see them while backing up, most often in parking lots or residential driveways. Statistics show that 50 children are backed over each week in this country. This includes 48 children who are treated in emergency departments and 2 who suffer fatal injuries every week. The predominant age for backover victims is 1 year old, and more than 60% of the accidents involve a larger vehicle (i.e. truck, van, or SUV). In 70% of cases, a parent or other close relative is the one behind the wheel.
The problem of backover accidents is growing as vehicles grow. All vehicles have some form of blind zone behind the rear wheels that cannot be seen from the driver's seat, and this zone is larger in SUVs and other larger vehicles. Young children are naturally curious and impulsive. One of the most common risk scenarios occurs when a parent or other loved one is departing, so a young child follows the adult into the driveway without the driver's knowledge. While parents should educate children about cars from the earliest of ages, the responsibility really rests on the adult drivers to use heightened attention when backing up. Toddlers in particular lack a sense of personal safety, despite having attained a level of independent mobility.
KidsAndCars was one of the groups behind The Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act of 2007, named for a toddler who died in a backover accident in his family's driveway when his father, a pediatrician, was at the wheel. As discussed in an Edmunds article, the NHTSA expected to finalize a rule requiring backup cameras in all new vehicles, one of several safety measures mandated by the Act, by the end of 2012. However, the rule stalled (and remains stalled) in what Edmunds describes as "an ongoing disappointment to safety advocates."
Backup cameras offer one of the best forms of protection against backover accidents. We hope lawmakers and regulators can get beyond their arguments and put safety first by fully implementing the Gulbransen Act. However, technology is no substitute for vigilance and awareness. Accidents happen, but tragedies are often preventable. If someone else's negligence resulted in your child's injury or death, please call our Panama City child injury lawyer.
Our hearts go out to the family of Kelly Shiver. We wish them peace as they move through this difficult tragedy.