Deadly Blind Spots

What's the leading cause of death among children? For many age groups, it's accidents involving automobiles. But not all of those accidents happen on streets and highways. Last year, 58 children in America were killed in their own driveways, run over by someone who loved them, but unfortunately had no idea they were there. It's happened twice this year, that we know of, in East Texas. Tonight, we're teaming up with Consumer Reports, the most respected name in product testing, as we begin a two part look at the problem, and some prossible solutions.

Dr. Greg Gulbransen knows firsthand the tragedy of a car's blind spot. One night after coming home from dinner out, he said goodnight to his two boys and went outside to back the car into the driveway. "While I was backing up, looking over my shoulders, using the rearview mirrors, I felt a bump." It turns out Greg's younger son, Cameron, had followed his dad outside. "There was my two year old son, with his pajamas and his blanket in his hand, bleeding profusely from a severe head injury. I had obviously backed right over him and I never saw him.

Cameron is one of dozens of children killed last year in an accident similar to this. Cameron's dad was driving an SUV that night. But Consumer Reports David Champion says every vehicle has visibility issues. "All cars have got a blind spot. Some cars are better than others. The bigger cars tend to have bigger blind spots," says David Champion of Consumer Reports. Consumer Reports testers illustrate the blind spot in four different types of vehicles: a sedan, a minivan, an SUV and a pick-up truck. Testers move orange traffic cones behind the vehicle until David can see them. "Still can't see it, further back, more." The cones mark off the area the driver is unable to see. "That area is completely blind to the driver. Anything could be there - a child, a soccer ball, a bicycle, anything like that." The sedan had the smallest blind spot - about 12 feet. The minivan had a blind spot of 13 feet. The SUV's blind spot was 14 feet. but the pick-up was the worst, with a blind spot measuring 30 feet long - more than twice the distance of any of the other vehicles. "Lately, families have been buying SUVs and pick-up trucks as family vehicles and really I don't think they realize the bigger depth that we see today in terms of the blind spot behind the vehicle."

Greg Gulbransen echoes that sentiment. "We did not appreciate the magnitude of the problem with that blind spot." Greg is now working to raise public awareness so that what happened to Cameron doesn't happen to any other child.

Greg Gulbransen has installed a rearview camera on his SUV that he believes would have saved his son's life.  Tuesday night in a special editio of our regular feature, "Does It Work?", we continue our partnership with Consumer Reports for a first of its kind test of this rearview camera system and other back-up aids.  It's a report you won't want to miss, especially if you drive a truck, van or SUV.