More than 7,000 children were rushed to hospitals after being backed over by a vehicle between 2001 and 2003 -- and nearly half of those accidents happened at home, according to a report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"Motor vehicle back over-related injuries pose a serious risk to children," it said.
Half the children injured were younger than 4, underscoring the need for parents to keep a close eye on impulsive toddlers when vehicles are present, activists said.
"Parents need to make sure children are being properly supervised," said Janette E. Fennell, president of Kids And Cars, the only group that tracks back over deaths.
The CDC reviewed data from U.S. emergency rooms and found that 7,475 children age 14 and under were treated for back over-related injuries. Most injuries were to arms and legs (54 percent) and to the head, face, and neck (28 percent).
Fennell's group tracks fatalities from news and other reports. Just six weeks into 2005, at least nine children have died in back over accidents, she said.
Last year, at least 85 children died; in 2003, at least 91 were lost.
In Orange County, at least 26 children have been killed or injured by such accidents over the past decade.
The CDC said simple changes such as fencing off driveways, changes in vehicle design, extra mirrors or sensing devices could reduce the risk of back over-related injuries and should be evaluated.
A review by Consumer Reports found that the blind spot behind cars and SUVs is much greater than many drivers may imagine.
The popular Toyota Camry has a 13-foot blind spot for a driver 5 feet, 8 inches tall. A shorter driver (5 feet, 1 inch tall) has a blind spot of 24 feet.
Other studies have linked back over accidents to the popularity of larger SUVs, vans and trucks. Longer, taller vehicles tend to have significantly larger blind spots.