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Nearly 100 kids died in ‘07 vehicle backovers

/ Source: The Associated Press

Nearly 100 children were killed and 2,000 injured in 2007 when they were backed over by cars, typically in residential driveways, the government said Tuesday.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released the data in a study evaluating backover deaths and other difficult-to-quantify “non-traffic” deaths and injuries. The agency was responding to a 2008 law requiring the tracking of data for incidents in which children are backed over, strangled by power windows or killed from being left in hot vehicles.

Overall, the report found that 221 people were killed in 2007 by backing-up vehicles, and 14,000 were injured. Ninety-nine of the deaths and 2,000 of the injuries involved children age 14 and under, NHTSA officials said.

“These are unnecessary deaths,” said Judith Lee Stone, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. “We know that when vehicle safety is improved to address these issues with better rear vision and better ways of identifying children and other pedestrians in the driveway and the parking lot we will see these numbers go down.”

Janette Fennell, who founded Kids and Cars, a Kansas-based auto safety group that collected data on these types of deaths and injuries, said it validated estimates her organization had developed that about two children die each week from backovers.

Other accidents

The 2008 legislation — sponsored by former New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton — required future vehicles to offer additional mirrors, sensor devices or cameras to help reduce blind spots. By 2010, new vehicles will need to have brake interlock systems, which prevent a car from shifting out of park unless the brake pedal is depressed.

NHTSA estimated that 393 people were killed and 20,000 were injured in crashes involving pedestrians and bicyclists in driveways, parking lots, private roads and trails in 2007.

In a separate review, the government found that 168 people were killed from 2003 to 2004 when they were pinned or trapped under vehicles, usually while working on a vehicle that fell from its supports.

The study also found 147 people were killed from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning from vehicle exhaust.

Other types of fatalities in 2003-04 included: 88 deaths from falling from a vehicle, typically from the tailgate or roof, 57 fatalities from vehicle fires, 44 deaths from being struck by an object such as a tree, a rock or cargo, 37 deaths from excessive heat and 14 deaths from excessive cold.

The report estimated that five people were killed from vehicle window asphyxia, in which someone is strangled by a window.

Separately, the study estimated that nearly 150,000 people were injured by slamming the door on their fingers or hands and 88,000 were injured when they overexerted themselves unloading cargo or pushing broken-down vehicles.

The 2007 data was based on police reports received by NHTSA through its existing crash data collection system. The 2003-2004 data was based on mortality data obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Vital Statistics System.