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THE INVESTIGATORS: Blind zones on cars pose hidden danger for kids


By Scottie Hunter


BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - A month after a 1-year-old was accidentally hit and killed in Baker, the 9News Investigators have found a hidden blind zone on cars that could put more children at risk.

“No one wants this to happen in their family,” said Amber Rollins, director of Kids and Cars, an advocacy group that tracks the data.

Rollins says what they are seeing from the data is alarming.

“The increase is really kind of almost hard to believe when you look at it,” Rollins added.

The increase comes from a place most drivers might not even think about. While a lot of the crashes often happen when a car is backing up, the numbers now show crashes caused when cars roll forward are on the rise.

Backover crashes have gone down since 2018 because just about every car on the road now has a backup camera but those backup cameras could still leave drivers vulnerable because no matter how good those cameras are, they don’t always show what’s directly in front of the car. That blind zone could put children in danger. According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), front-over crashes are responsible for 366 deaths a year and leave 15,000 kids hurt.

WAFB’s Scottie Hunter asked Rollins if the blind zones are on every single car that’s on the road.

“Yes,” said Rollins. “So there’s a blind zone directly in front of all vehicles, including small sedans. This is universal... there’s not a vehicle out there that doesn’t have that blind zone.”

The 9News Investigators put that to the test with Christina Carter, a mom in Ascension Parish. With Carter in the driver’s seat, WAFB’s Scottie Hunter placed her three boys in front of the car to see exactly when she would be able to spot them in front of her vehicle. It wasn’t until 12 feet that the mom could barely see a hair on any of her sons’ heads.

"I can barely see the tip of… I’m guessing my oldest son’s head moving,” Carter said.

Scottie: “So, if you were in a hurry and didn’t pay attention to them being out there, this could be a tragedy?”

Carter: “Oh yeah. Definitely.”

Carter could finally see her kids fully at 14 feet in front of the vehicle. It’s an emotional realization that she says took her breath away.

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"That’s very surprising,” said Carter. “It’s definitely different when it’s your kids that you’re seeing. I couldn’t see my own kids in front of my own car.”WAFB’s Scottie Hunter asked Carter if this is something every parent and every driver should pay attention to going forward.

“Oh yeah,” said Carter.

For drivers who are concerned about preventing these types of tragedies, Rollins says supervision is key.

"Knowing that is so important when you’ve got little ones,” said Rollins. “You need to know if they’re going outside. That’s how a lot of tragedies happen.”

The answer to preventing the crashes could also be found in new technology. New features are being loaded into many vehicles now, like the new Chevy Tahoe from Gerry Lane. Kenny Robinson, a salesman with Gerry Lane, says a new bird’s eye view technology is standard on the 2021 model.

"We’re human and we can only see what we can see,” said Robinson. “This just gives you some added protection.”

With a handful of strategically positioned cameras all around the truck, it let’s the driver see everything around them and offers alerts when anything gets too close.

"If somebody walks across right now, the whole screen will light up red and your seats will vibrate,” said Robinson.

A lot like the backup cameras, the folks at Kids and Cars want new technology to become standard on every car. Until then, parents like Carter say what WAFB found should make everyone pay a little extra attention when they get behind the wheel.

"If we all just take I guess a few more minutes to do that then maybe we can avoid other tragedies,” said Carter.

In order to find the data from Kids and Cars on the frontover crashes, click here.

More content, including a test of blind zones on large, medium, and small size cars can be found on WAFB Plus on your favorite streaming device.

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