[Philadelphia, PA] Yesterday, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) demonstrated his lifelong commitment to saving children’s lives with the introduction of The Standards to Prevent (STOP) Frontovers Act. The bill would require the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Transportation, to issue a federal safety standard mandating technology in all new vehicles to prevent frontover deaths and injuries.
After decades of working to prevent child deaths and injuries from frontovers, Kids and Car Safety is encouraged to see this very dangerous and deadly child safety issue finally getting the attention it deserves.
Kids and Car Safety identified the problem and coined the term ‘frontover’ to describe these all-too-common incidents. Working with victims and survivors, we have been a leader in bringing the issue of both frontovers and backovers to the national agenda and seeking lifesaving solutions.
A frontover happens when a person, typically a child, is run over often in a parking lot, driveway or a location other than a public roadway. The reason this happens is the driver could not see the person directly in front of the vehicle due to poor visibility or was unable to stop in time. Children age 5 and under are the most at-risk due to their size, lack of impulse control and inability to truly understand danger. Tragically, in over 60% of cases, it was a parent or loved one behind the wheel according to Kids and Car Safety’s data.
The NHTSA is currently publishing basic estimates on the number of frontover injuries and deaths while Kids and Car Safety continues to document detailed accounts of frontover cases involving children. NHTSA’s most recent report (DOT HS 813 363) reveals frontover deaths amongst all ages have nearly doubled from 251 deaths in 2008 to 526 deaths in 2020. These grim statistics are beginning to bring to light how widespread this issue has become and yet we still have a lot to learn.
Behind this devastating increase are the design and popularity of larger trucks and SUVs. In fact, 73% of vehicles sold in 2021 were trucks and SUVs according to Edmunds.com. While all vehicles, no matter the size, have a front blindzone, larger vehicles are much heavier have larger blindzones.
Most drivers are completely unaware that they cannot see a child standing directly in front of their vehicle. Consequently, you cannot avoid hitting something or someone that you cannot see.
Today, some vehicles are equipped with 360 degree or birds eye view camera systems and/or other sensor-based systems aimed at preventing forward moving crashes. However, there is a great deal of variance in the performance capabilities among the various safety systems offered and a lot of consumer confusion. For example, most automatic emergency braking systems are designed to prevent a crash with another vehicle or large object. However, they are likely to be ineffective at detecting a pedestrian, especially a small child. Consumers should be vigilant in learning what safety systems are in their vehicle and what their limitations might be and should never rely solely on them.
A federal motor vehicle safety standard, required by Senator Blumenthal’s bill, is important because it requires that the technology being used by automakers meets minimum performance standards. This will ensure the systems are effective and consistent amongst the various vehicle manufacturers which lessens consumer confusion. A safety standard also ensures every passenger vehicle is equipped with this safety technology. It will eliminate consumers having to purchase it a in an expensive add-on package that can cost thousands of dollars above the base price of a vehicle.
Kids and Car Safety strongly believes that safety features should be standard in all vehicles because ALL children deserve to be protected regardless of what vehicle their family can afford. This is a safety equality issue.
Safety standards are effective. Today, you cannot purchase a vehicle in the United States without a rearview camera thanks to a safety standard required in the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act (Pub.L. 110-189). This was a major victory that Kids and Car Safety achieved after over a decade of advocacy. The number of children backed over is decreasing because people can finally see what is behind them when backing up.
“For decades we have been working tirelessly to sound the alarm among the auto safety community that frontovers are a major safety concern for young children. Today, with many thanks to Senator Blumenthal, we are one step closer to eliminating these predictable and preventable tragedies,” said Janette Fennell, president and founder of Kids and Car Safety. “Sadly, this will continue until life-saving frontover prevention technology is standard in all vehicles. The time to act is now,” she continued.
Besides, Kids and Car Safety, The STOP Frontovers Act has been endorsed by auto and consumer safety organizations including the Center for Auto Safety, Consumer Reports, and Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.
To learn more about frontovers;
Frontover Fact Sheet & Safety Tips for Families:
The STOP Frontover Act bill text –