Spotlight on blind spots

And you thought your kids were safe in your own driveway

Fred Kalmin knows all too well that driveways and children can be a deadly combination.

Ten years ago, the father of three backed over and killed his almost 2-year-old daughter in his driveway in Buffalo Grove. He says his son was in the car with him, and he thought his daughter was indoors with his wife at the time.

"I thought I ran over a toy or garbage can," he says.

His heart-breaking story is far from unique. More than 2,400 children between the ages of 1 and 14 are treated in emergency rooms every year after being hit or run over by a vehicle backing up, according to a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Janette Fennell, founder and president of Kids and Cars, a national nonprofit child safety organization based in Leawood, Kan., says that every week in the United States at least 50 children are struck by vehicles backing up. Two will die as a result of their injuries.

Because these accidents are happening on private property rather than public roads, they often go unreported.

The danger increases with larger vehicles, according to a two-year study by the University of Utah's Intermountain Injury Control Research. It found children are 2.4 times more likely to be injured or killed by a backing van or other large vehicle than by a car.

Fennell, the mother of two, wants the federal government to set a rear-view visibility and performance standard to protect children from driveway dangers.

"There is no standard," Fennell says. "Kids were always being backed over. This isn't anything new."

Now remarried and living in Highland Park, Kalmin says it is important to make sure everyone is accounted for, especially when you're backing up your car.

N. Clay Mann, the lead investigator in the Utah study, says, "The most straightforward approach is to back into a driveway rather than back out. Make sure the driveway is clear and the car is facing forward."

He suggests an adult actually walk behind the vehicle as it's backing up. For more information visit

Julie Liotine


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