More data needed for backover collisions involving kids: safety organization

TORONTO – The death of an eight-year-old boy after an accident in a Toronto parking lot, has prompted calls from a safety organization to raise public awareness on the dangers of car-related injuries and deaths to kids.

The boy died Saturday and his mother is recovering in hospital after they were struck in the parking lot of the Ontario Science Centre. Police believe that the father of the boy was dropping the mother and son off when the car backed up.

In an email to Global News, Transport Canada said an average of seven deaths per year are caused by rear car blind spots.

But John A. McKiggan, chair of Kids and Cars Canada – a Halifax-based non-profit organization dedicated in preventing injuries and death to children in or around motor vehicles – said that there are no Canadian statistics that track backover injuries and deaths.

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“What we know is that hundreds of children are being injured or killed every year but to date there has been no concerted effort to track the problem or find a solution,” said McKiggan.

“There are some databases that provide a glimpse at how big a problem this really is. The Canadian Hospitals Injury Reporting and Prevention Program tracks hospital admissions from child pedestrian-auto collisions. Unfortunately it dramatically underestimates the problem.”

“Because it only tracks admissions it doesn’t cover fatalities, it doesn’t cover injuries that didn’t require a trip to the hospital and it doesn’t track children who went to the ER had a cast put on and then were released without being admitted,” said McKiggan.

Statistics collected by the Canadian Hospitals Injury Reporting and Prevention Program – which tracks hospital admissions – show that hundreds of children are injured every year in backover collisions.

In a 2009 report from the Canadian Hospitals Injury Reporting and Prevention Program, it found more than 4,000 cases of injuries due to child pedestrian – auto collisions. It also concluded that although backover collisions represent a small portion of car versus pedestrian accidents, they tend to involve more severe injuries as indicated by their admission to hospital.

In an effort to reduce blind spot accidents and injuries in the United States, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proposed legislation to have reversing cameras a must in new vehicles by 2014. While these regulations have not yet been mandated, they could become law by the end of this year.

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They also estimate that about 300 fatalities and 18,000 injuries are reported each year on backover accidents with half of these figures involving toddlers and kids under five-years-old.

Transport Canada is keeping a close eye on these developments. An initial study funded by Transport Canada, found that reversing cameras do allow drivers to park with greater ease. However the results did not support a conclusion that they can be relied upon as a safety device.

Currently in Canada, the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations do not require the installation of reversing cameras or other backing sensors in vehicles manufactured for the Canadian market.