SAUK CITY (WKOW) -- A local family took part in National Highway Traffic Safety Board hearings in March, on back-up cameras in cars. Experts believe the tiny cameras could help prevent cases of kids being backed over.
"No one would buy a vehicle if we couldn't see 20-30 feet going forward," said Jeanette Fennell, of Kids and Cars. "But we're buying these vehicles where ewe can't see 20-30 feet going backward."
Fennell's web site, www.kidsandcars.org, is dedicated to improving the safety of children around vehicles. It tracks backover cases and states people are backed over as many as 50 times a week in the U.S.
Fennell was in Washington for the hearings, and invited a Sauk City couple to come tell the story of how they almost lost their son, Matthew. Dianne Anthony was backing up the family's Econoline van on a Spring Day in 2003, when 23-month-old Matthew slipped out of the house. She thought she was backing over a wooden tie.. until her father ran out and told her she had been rolling over her youngest son.
"So I threw the van in park and I ran around, and Matthew was lying behind the passenger side rear tire... I hate this part," Anthony said, as she started to cry.
Matthew spent 54 days in the hospital. He had a broken thigh bone, a perforated intestine and serious injuries to his liver. But the Anthonys were one of the few families in Washington whose story had a happy ending. Matthew just turned 10 and testified with his parents at the hearing.
"I was explaining how a lot of kids die, getting run over", said Matthew.
Under a law passed in 2008, car companies are required to have rearview camera systems in 10-percent of their cars by 2012, 40-percent of them by 2013, and all of them by 2014. But the standards have not been set, like the range of the cameras, the size of the monitor inside the car and how long it takes to produce an image once the car is in reverse.
Families like the Anthonys want the best possible back-up cameras, to completely eliminate the blind zone.. the area a driver can't see, even when his rearview and side mirrors are set perfectly. The zone is eight feet wide on the average car and as long as 50 feet in some trucks.
"The people who are thinking they can just be careful are honestly fooling themselves," said Matthew's father, Paul Anthony.
Standards for the backup cameras were supposed to be set by March first. But transportation officials said they needed more time, and moved the deadline back to the end of this year. Still, the Anthonys feel like their testimony made a difference.
Complying with the law could cost the auto industry as much as $2.7 billion dollars, which averages out to around $200 per vehicle.