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New Technology Could Help Save Children’s Lives

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FREDERICK, Md. (WJZ) — When you put your car in reverse, a tragedy could be just behind your bumper. WJZ investigates the growing number of back-up accidents.

Mary Bubala speaks with one woman who shares the heartbreaking reason she wants all cars to have back-up cameras.

Three-year-old Vada Schoon died in her driveway in Frederick.

“She was the cutest, funniest little girl,” said Vada Schoon’s aunt, Melissa Feimer. “My heart breaks for her and it always will.”

An SUV backing up ran over her. The driver was her own mother; she thought her daughter was safely inside the house.

“She was running outside to tell my sister something,” Feimer said.

What happened that morning is a tragedy that plays out at least twice a week across the country. In 70 percent of those back-up accidents, a parent or relative is behind the wheel.

“It wasn’t a car accident. It was much worse than a car accident. The only person my sister could blame was herself and that’s what she did,” Feimer said.

Feimer’s sister begged her to warn others about the danger lurking behind their wheels.

“She had said to me, `Please make sure this doesn’t happen. You can do that. I know you can do that,'” Feimer said.

Just last month in Elkton, a man pulling out of a parking space never saw 5-year-old Samiya Jones behind him.

“She was my only child and I’ll never get her back. You never get closure on something like this,” said Samiya’s father, Samuel Jones.

Between 2006 and 2010, nearly 450 children died in back-up accidents. That’s more than twice the number killed in the previous five years.

Even in small to mid-sized SUVs, there are big blind spots. In the side and review mirrors, all may be clear, but there are still blind spots…unless there’s a rear-view camera. If you drive a minivan, your blind spot is up to 28 feet. An SUV has 39 feet in its blind spot and if you’re at the wheel of a truck, it can be a whopping 50 feet.

“It can happen to anybody, anywhere, any time. Your kids, someone else’s kids,” Feimer said.

Back-up cameras are now standard in nearly half of all new vehicles, but Schoon’s family wants cameras in all of them.

“It’s frustrating. I figured by now this would have been done, and it hasn’t been,” Feimer said.

President George Bush signed a law requiring back-up cameras in all new vehicles by the beginning of this year, but the government delayed it to do more studies.

“The bill’s been passed. Make it happen,” Feimer said.

Auto makers agree with the government, telling WJZ, “A one-size-fits-all solution would not make sense for different vehicles.”

AAA supports back-up cameras across the board.

“Certainly a combination of the supplemental tool of the back-up camera and turning your head and looking we believe will go a far step in the right direction,” said Ragina Averella with AAA.

“They want to review more statistics. How many more kids need to die?” Feimer said. “All it takes is one moment of not knowing exactly what’s behind your car and your entire life changes.”

The auto industry estimates back-up cameras will add $200 to the cost of new cars that don’t already have navigation screens. The government hopes to make them standard on all vehicles in the 2014 model year.

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