As vehicles grow, so does the risk of backovers

When Brian and Lisa Wright of Port Neches, Texas, play in the backyard with their two children, there's someone missing. Their son Cade was killed three years ago when a woman driving an SUV backed over him at a local snow cone stand.

"I just want to prevent other families from going through what we go through," says Lisa Wright.

Many of today's biggest vehicles have enormous blind spots. A test by Consumer Reports found those areas extend out as far as 50 feet. The Wrights drive a big SUV, but theirs has sensors that sound an alarm when the vehicle is backing dangerously close to something, and a TV camera that shows what's in the blind spot.

"The technology's there," says Brian Wright. "It's a no-brainer."

And yet only a small percentage of autos sold in this country — usually higher end vehicles like a Lexus SUV — are equipped with devices that can keep children from being killed in backover accidents.

Recently, an organization called Kids and Cars gathered children to film a public service ad aimed at increasing awareness of the problem. "Our research shows that at least two children every week are being backed over and killed," says the ad's narrator.

Even so, there's no federal standard for automobile visibility — a mandate that at least one auto owners group is against.

"As much as we would want every single safety technology that is invented put on our cars, unfortunately, if we did that, the lowest-cost entry level car could be $70-90,000," says Ron Defore, spokesman for SUV Owners of America. 

Last year, lawmakers asked federal regulators to keep track of backover accidents. Now Congress is considering insisting on a visibility standard, which advocates say could be met by the use of new technology.

"If it saves one life, it's worth it," says Brian Wright.