Consumer Alert: Preventing back-over deaths

BISHOPVILLE, SC - Every week 50 children on average are hurt or killed when a vehicle backs over them.

Just a few months ago, WIS talked to the mother of a Lee County toddler killed in a back-over accident. Shellnyah Hickman was killed in January when she ran into the path of a pickup truck driven by her aunt.

The truck was backing down Elias Lane in Bishopville. Before putting the truck in reverse, the aunt made sure the child was out of the way, but couldn't see her when she ran behind the truck.

There is a device on the market now that can help you see what's in the blind spot behind your vehicle. Rear vision cameras come in all shapes and sizes, and prices. The latest one on the market is a wireless camera.

Frank Chang knows firsthand the dangers of blind spots behind vehicles. He was leaving home, on his way to work, when the unthinkable happened. "As I was backing up, I felt a slight ripple in the car, like in the steering wheel - sheer panic because I knew it had to be a child. There had to be something that wasn't there a minute ago when I looked in the driveway."

It was Chang's two-year-old daughter, Talia, who'd managed to slip out the front door. Chang says, "It just happened. It's something that I wish more people understood how easy it is to happen."

But this story doesn't have the tragic ending many do. Talia survived - spending three months in a cast to repair her broken bones.

David Champion, head of Consumer Reports auto test, says people don't realize just how big the blind spot is behind many vehicles. "In this relatively small Hyundai Santa Fe, I can't see 19 feet behind me. However, when I get out of the car, I see little Benny behind me. I had no idea he was there."

Many new cars come with rear vision cameras. But factory-installed ones do come with a price and are expensive. Another option is one you can buy one at an electronics store and install yourself. It will cost less, but it can be hard to install, because of needing to wire it to your license plate.

The newest rear-vision camera out on the market is wireless. Consumer Reports testers just evaluated the $150 VR3. The video screen sits right on the dashboard.

Testers found it doesn't block your view and is easy to set up. Champion says, "When you put the car in reverse, the camera automatically turns on, giving you the view behind."

But there are some drawbacks, according to Champion, "The screen is rather small so it's difficult to see. And the field of vision is rather narrow."

Nevertheless, the VR3 wireless backup camera can provide an added measure of safety, and real peace of mind with little ones around.

Consumer Reports says drivers should never rely solely on any backup camera. You should make it part of your standard checks. Look behind the vehicle before you get in. Before you back up, check your mirrors and camera. And be sure to look over your shoulder, too.

For more information from Consumer Reports, click here>>

Reported by Judi Gatson

Posted by Chantelle Janelle