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Fact Sheet

Embargoed until
February 17, 2005, 12 PM EDT
Contact: CDC Injury Center
Media Relations (770) 488-4902

Motor Vehicle Backover Injury Among Children and Youth— United States, 2001-2003

Motor vehicle backover-related injuries pose a serious risk to children and youth with an estimated 7,475 children from ages one to 14 years treated in U.S. emergency departments between 2001 and 2003 for nonfatal backover-related injuries. CDC researchers found that half of the children injured were ages one to four years old. Most backover-related injuries took place at home or on public property with 40% of incidents reported in driveways or parking lots. While the majority (78%) of cases were treated and released from the emergency departments, motor vehicles backing over children and youth pose a substantial risk for severe injury and death. Alerting parents and caretakers to this risk makes it possible for them to take simple steps to protect children from backover-related injuries. Additionally, prevention measures ranging from environmental modifications, like fencing off driveways, to changes in vehicle design, like extra mirrors or sensing devices, may reduce the risk of backover-related injuries to children and youth and should be evaluated.

Key Findings Include:

  • Pedestrians who were standing, sitting, playing, or walking near or behind a motor vehicle were six times more likely to be backed over by a vehicle than bicyclists or tricyclists.
  • Injuries occurred predominantly to arms and legs (53.6%) and to the head, face, and neck region (28.0%).
  • More than half (56%) of all injuries were minor contusions and abrasions; the occurrence of these minor contusions and abrasions increased with age, from 49.4% among one to four year-olds to 62.5% among 10-14 year olds. More serious injuries including fractures and internal injuries decreased with age from 39.5% among children aged one to four years to 17.5% among children aged 10 to 14 years.

Prevention Strategies:

  • Public education may increase awareness among parents and caregivers and encourage adults to adequately supervise children and youth who are playing in areas near parked motor vehicles; motivate drivers to look carefully for children and youth before backing up; and prompt owners to lock motor vehicles in garages or driveways and to always keep the keys out of the reach of children and youth.
  • Proposed environmental modifications include fencing driveways off from the rest of the yard; providing fenced play areas away from the driveway and street; and redesigning drives to be circular to eliminate the need to back out. Those modifications that prove effective should be implemented.
  • Automobile modifications may also play a role in preventing backover-related injuries among children and youth and should be evaluated for their effectiveness. Possible changes include back-up warning alarms when a vehicle is placed in reverse and the use of mirrors or sensing devices that would alert the driver to an out-of-sight object, such as a small child, when backing the vehicle.

This MMWR article is available online at:

For additional information from CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control visit:

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