When you think of auto safety and your child, car seats, seat belts, and anti-lock brakes might come to mind. But children can also be injured if they're struck by or rolled over by a vehicle that's moving in reverse, also known as a backover injury. Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, studied backover injuries and how often they happen to children.
Using data from medical records provided by hospital emergency departments across the United States, researchers identified backover injuries in children between 1 and 14 years of age that occurred between 2001 and 2003. Accidents that caused deaths weren't included in this study - only accidents that resulted in a nonfatal injury to a child. Researchers noted the type of injury, where the accident took place, and how the injury occurred.
Each year, it's estimated that 2,492 1- to 14-year-old children sustain injuries when a car or truck is moving in reverse. Half of the injuries occurred in children 1 to 4 years of age. The most common body parts injured were the head, face, neck, and extremities. More than one quarter of the children experienced serious injuries, such as fractures and internal injuries.
About 86% of the children in the study were standing, sitting, lying, playing, or walking near the car at the time of the accident - these children were six times more likely to be injured than kids riding a bike or tricycle. Forty percent of the injuries occurred in driveways or parking lots, and many children were injured at home.
What This Means to You: Backover injuries hurt many children each year. In addition to the findings from this study, the authors point out that in 1998, approximately 47 deaths due to backover injuries occurred in children under 19 years of age.
The good news is that many backover injuries can be prevented by taking a few precautions. The CDC recommends:
- that adults closely supervise children who are near parked vehicles
- that drivers check carefully for children before and while backing up
- that vehicles are locked in garages or in driveways with the keys kept out of the reach of children
Other strategies to prevent injuries include fencing your driveway, making sure your child doesn't play in areas by driveways and streets, and installing backup warning alarms or sensing devices in your vehicles to alert drivers to small children who may be nearby.
Source: R. Patel, MPH; A.M. Dellinger, PhD; J.L. Annest, PhD; Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, February 18, 2005
Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: March 2005