From time to time, drivers need to place their car, truck, or van into reverse to back up, either from a parking space or to readjust position. For many Arizona drivers, backing out of a driveway or a school drop off zone is part of a morning ritual. Thousands of drivers back up without incident on any given day, but on occasion, a driver fails to back up properly and causes an accident. Learn more about a backover accident with the help of our Phoenix car accident lawyers.
What is a Backover Accident?
A backover accident is a type of car crash that occurs when a driver who is moving her vehicle in reverse strikes or otherwise comes into contact with another person or vehicle. Often, these accidents result in injuries to the individual or occupant who is struck by the backing car. Backover accidents occur most often when a driver is in a rush, fails to look behind the vehicle, or is otherwise distracted while driving.
Facts about Backover AccidentsMost backover accidents occur at relatively low speeds. When a typical driver is backing up, the accelerator often is not used and therefore the car travels slower than it does when driving in traffic. However a slow speed does not mean that injuries do not result.
In fact, unlike in many other accidents, the driver may never use the brakes to slow the vehicle before an impact occurs. This occurs because a driver often does not realize that a pedestrian, bicyclist, or other car is in the driver’s path of travel until after an impact occurs. When the brakes are not applied before an impact, the car is more likely to continue traveling backwards and this can cause more damage than if the car stopped immediately.
Two Common Types of Backover Accidents
There are two common types of backover accidents.
In the first, a car in reverse strikes a person or other object and stops at or near the point of impact. This type of backover accident often prevents serious injuries from occurring.
In the second, the car traveling in reverse continues to move past the point of impact, potentially knocking a pedestrian to the ground and rolling over them as the car backs up. These accidents may lead to a victim becoming trapped underneath a car or even being run over by the car’s tires. This second type of accident, known as a rollover, is extremely dangerous and cause very serious injuries or even death.
Blind Spots as a Cause of Backover Accidents
One of the reasons that backover accidents are common is that every car, regardless of the design, has a blind spot behind it that prohibits a driver from seeing everything as the car reverses.
In most cars, this blind spot is the area directly below the rear windshield and extending to the ground. While an adult of average height standing behind a vehicle can be seen through a windshield, a child, a person bending down or reaching for an item, or a shorter individual may be impossible to see.
These are the types of people most likely to be seriously injured in a backover accident because, even when a driver looks for hazards before reversing, these victims often cannot be seen until it is too late.
Backup Cameras Are Helping to Prevent Backover Accidents
Manufacturers of many new cars have recognized and addressed the issue of backover accidents by adding backup cameras to their vehicles.
Backup cameras are mounted to the rear of a car, usually right above the license plate, and capture the blind spot directly behind a vehicle, including the area close to the ground. The image is projected live to a screen that is located within eyesight of the driver, allowing the driver to watch the screen as the car backs up instead of using the limited view out the rear windshield.
Other cars that do not have a backup camera choose to use a warning system where a series of rapid beeps are triggered anytime an object, regardless of whether it is a person, fixed object, or temporary hazard, is within a dangerous distance of the vehicle’s rear. The beeping is an audible warning to the driver that indicates the driver should refrain from backing any further due to the hazard.
Another common safety device uses a combination of a backup camera and sensing device to automatically apply the brakes of a vehicle when an object is behind the car. This not only alerts a driver to a possible problem but also can forcibly prevent a collision from occurring. In many vehicles, this type of warning system applies the brakes faster than a human can react, increasing the chance that the car will stop before an accident happens.
Though none of these safety devices can prevent every backover incident, they are a marked safety improvement and greatly reduce risks. For this reason, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has recommended that all new vehicles be equipped with some form of backup camera or sensor to promote safety and combat a vehicle’s blind zone.
Technology is Not an Alternative to Careful Driving
It should be noted that backup cameras, especially for those who have had one for a long time, can create a false sense of security. This often happens when a person is so used to the technology showing them what is behind them, that they begin backing up before they are sure the coast is clear. It is the responsible of all drivers to ensure the area behind their vehicle is clear before they backup, no matter what technology their car has.
Even with the best safety features available, the responsibility to prevent backover accidents from happening lies with each and every driver. If a driver does not look at blind spots or is in a hurry, an accident is much more likely to occur.
Experts recommend that each driver be familiar with his or her surroundings before backing a vehicle. This means that as you approach your car, look around and take note of any potential threats, like children playing in the area or a designated pedestrian path that lies behind your vehicle. Be aware of others in the area, including shoppers or pedestrians in a parking lot, children near a school or playground, or people walking by at the end of a driveway.
Children and Elderly Are at Particular Risk of Backover Accidents
Like so many accidents, children and the elderly are the most likely groups to suffer severe injuries in a backover crash.
Children are not able to appreciate the extreme danger associated with a backing car and therefore may not get out of the way as an adult would. Further, after an accident, children are less able to describe their injuries than adults and may not receive appropriate medical care as a result.
The elderly often suffer from mobility issues that prevent them from avoiding an accident once a car begins to back. What's worse, the natural aging process makes older adults more likely to suffer from fractures and other injuries after an accident.
What to Do if You Were Injured in a Backover Accident
If you have been hurt in a backover accident or if your family member has been hurt or killed, it can be devastating. It is important to understand that you have rights under Arizona law and that you may be able to recover for your damages. The most important thing is that you receive the care and assistance to help you return to normal after your accident.
Each accident is unique and has specific facts that can make a big difference. That is why it is always a good idea to speak with a Phoenix personal injury lawyer after an accident to see if you have a case and to learn about your legal rights. The lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. are standing by now to take your call toll free at (855) 749-5299 or locally at (602) 819-5191. Call us now and let us help you get the relief you deserve.