How to Reduce Driveway Accidents at Home

by Matt KeeganJuly 25, 2017

This Simple Fix Can Reduce Driveway Accidents at Home

Homeowners must consider a multitude of safety issues when shopping for and caring for their homes. When most people think of home safety, many consider what can happen inside the home. But the safety of your home includes the driveway — where accidents can be common and devastating. Whether it’s backing into a mailbox, running over a cast-aside bicycle, or something much worse, like striking a pet or a child, back-over accidents are one reason driveway safety should be on your home safety checklist as you’re looking for your next home.

Because back-over accidents can be so damaging — even a matter of life and death — backup camera technology in vehicles has become highly valued by today’s consumers. In fact, a recent study by CARFAX shows that this in-car safety technology is among the most coveted car tech on the market. When used correctly, this feature can be highly effective in preventing accidents and keeping our homes safe.

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How Drivers Are Demanding Safety Car Technology

Back-over accidents in driveways and parking lots claim the lives of nearly 300 people each year, mostly children under 5 years old, and they cause injury to more than 18,000 people, according to KidsAndCars.org, an advocacy organization with a mission to protect children in and around vehicles. By and large, much of that advocacy has paid off, as greater numbers of new cars come outfitted with a suite of safety technologies like backup camera systems. In fact, as of May 2018, such systems will become standard equipment on all new vehicles, supplying an extra measure of protection for drivers, pedestrians and pets.

The CARFAX study found that consumers are demanding this technology, placing a high importance on safety features. It revealed that 96 percent of respondents consider safety an important or very important factor when choosing a vehicle, second only to reliability. Of these, 87 percent consider tech safety important when buying a car.

As for backup cameras specifically, they were the No. 1 demanded tech feature for respondents interested in car safety technology. (Only 6% of the drivers surveyed said they were not interested in having backup cameras in their vehicles.) The study showed that 57% of respondents will consider backup cameras as a “must-have” feature in the next vehicle they buy (1.31 times the number who considered it a must have when purchasing their current vehicle).

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Technology’s Impact on Safety

Both the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conduct crash tests and assign scores to each make/model tested. The two organizations recommend vehicles equipped with a rear-view camera, forward collision warning, and lane departure warning. (Advanced technologies such as adaptive cruise control with emergency braking receive additional accolades, but these features come at a greater cost to buyers and are typically bundled in driver-assist packages.)

To find out how this technology actually affects driver safety, the IIHS conducted its own study of in-car technologies, looking at two factors:

  1. Measuring blind zones
  2. How drivers use technology

Not unexpectedly, the study found that large SUVs have the worst rear visibility, while small cars had the best. No matter the vehicle type, generally larger vehicles performed worse than smaller ones. However, some cars performed poorly simply based on the angle of the rear window or the height of the trunk.

The IIHS found that vehicles equipped with backup cameras saw blind zones reduced by about 90 percent on average. Parking sensors are helpful too, but not nearly as much as cameras.

The second part of the test analyzed how drivers use backup cameras. In this situation, a foam cut out of a child-size test dummy stood behind test vehicles, unknown to each of the participating drivers who thought they were on hand to participate in vehicle maneuvering and to evaluate telematic system testing only.

When each driver completed his or her evaluation, they received instructions to back out of their spot and return to where they parked their personal vehicles. Each time, researchers placed a dummy behind the vehicle — in most cases, it was stationary, while in other situations the dummy was mobile.

In vehicles without a camera or sensors, the stationary dummy sustained a hit 100 percent of the time. When equipped with sensors, the contact rate fell but remained over 90 percent. In cars with a rearview camera, the contact rate fell below 60 percent. Interestingly, in cars equipped with both cameras and sensors, the hit rate rose to just over 75 percent, lending credence to the thinking that some people misjudged how much room they had available before hitting the object. Clearly, a significant number of people simply ignore the technology.

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Combining Tech with Habits for a Safer Home

When used effectively, in-car technologies do help, but they’re never a replacement for what’s still taught in driver’s education classes — to first look over our right shoulders and out the back window before backing up. CARFAX found that 25 percent of respondents who have backup monitor technology still look over their shoulders first, while 30 percent rely on the camera instead. Further, 11 percent of drivers with cameras said they look over their shoulder rarely or not at all, with an additional 14 percent claiming to do so infrequently.

For upping your safety at home, keep your driveway — and your driving habits — in mind. Always check over your shoulder and through the rear window in addition to using cameras and sensors. It’s also a good idea to do a visual sweep of your driveway before pulling out to be sure it’s clear of objects, pets and children. Keep landscaping and shrubbery around the driveway trimmed to you have clear visibility around the driveway and into the street.

If you’re a new to a neighborhood, take note of the people and pets nearby. In particular, examine their habits, especially in relation to how they behave around your property. Not only do you want to avoid backup accidents, but you’ll want to be mindful of other possible liabilities, including a cracked sidewalk or an icy driveway. An umbrella insurance policy is helpful here. Technology such as in-home security systems and in-car safety features are useful, but are never a substitute for a trained eye and situational awareness.

So, what then is the simple fix? That answer is a suite of in-car technologies and drivers who know how and when to use them. And not just understanding the way they work, but knowing the limitations and certainly never relying on them exclusively. When applied together, accident avoidance technology and life-saving habits will help make our homes safer.


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About The Author
Matt Keegan
Matt Keegan is an automotive writer for CARFAX, where you can search for used cars with the safety technology, like backup cameras. Matt enjoys providing homeowners and car owners with safe driving tips from the driveway to the highway.

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