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Front & Center: Popular cars come with hidden, dangerous blind zones

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- Blind spots are becoming bigger and more dangerous in millions of popular cars. Those blinds spots aren’t to the sides or behind those vehicles either. Most drivers have no idea they even exists and they’re directly in front of them. For the past nine years, an average of 58 kids have died each year from crashes the KidsAndCars organization calls “frontovers.” “People truly believe that they can see what's directly in front of their bumper and unfortunately, that's just not true,” Amber Rollins, the director of KidsAndCars said. They work daily to document tragic accidents involving children. She says there’s been a spike in what’s known as frontovers. “It's usually a one to two year old child being supervised by somebody, and that person turns their back for two seconds, while another person they're arriving at the home or leaving the home,” Rollins said. “And by the time the person inside realizes that they're not there, and they've actually gone outside the house. It's too late.” How big are those blind spots exactly? ABC57’s Tiffany Salameh worked with one Michiana mom to find out. Kara Yates, a mother of five in Rochester, drives a GMC Acadia.  She feels safe driving her children in it but the size of the blind spot in front of her was something she said was shocking. “It's scary,” Yates said. “I've never thought about them being in front of my car. I've always thought about them being behind my car, but never really in front.” While sitting behind the wheel of her SUV, Yates couldn’t see her two children playing directly in front of her SUV. Not until her children were almost 14 feet away from her front bumper. Since 2008, the number of children who’ve died in frontover crashes has nearly doubled to 575 deaths from 2009 to 2018. Included in those numbers is a 7-year-old Mishawaka boy who was killed by his neighbor last summer. Rollins said the reason for that increase can be attributed to the increase in popularity of big trucks and SUVS. Illinois congresswoman Jan Schakowsky thinks cameras and sensor-technology can help keep kids safe. “Every single car has a blind spot in front,” Schakowsky said. “So it's a real danger. Kids killed and kids injured.” Schakowsky is the chair of the consumer protection subcommittee and she’s pushing for legislation that would require all new vehicles to have front-facing cameras and warning systems. “You know, there's so many things that we can’t do to save lives, we haven't figured out all the diseases that affect our families, our children, but these are things that could avert a death,” Schakowsky explained. Back in 2008, Schakowsky drafted legislation that required all new vehicles to have back up cameras. That bill was signed into law in 2008. Now, she’s hoping she can get others to get on board with this one. “These are everyday kinds of accidents,” Schakowsky said. “But these kinds of tragedies lasts a lifetime. And so using the technologies that that we have, why not? Why not save a life.” While there is no bill requiring front-facing cameras yet, Congresswoman Schakowsky has plans to meet with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration Thursday to get the ball rolling. In the meantime, it’s important to educate loved ones of the hidden dangers of driving larger vehicles, especially if there are little ones around.
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