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A child’s death is always tragic. But when it happens as the result of a back-up collision, it is particularly heart-wrenching. One study conducted over four years showed that nearly half the children under 15 who died as a result of non-traffic, non-crash accidents were involved in back up collisions. Whether the consequences involves loss of life, damage to a valuable item, or a mere fender-bender, back-up collisions are nearly always avoidable.

Why, then, are back-up collisions so common? Driver inattention is often to blame. Even experienced drivers can be distracted by cell phone conversations or a hectic schedule. A second reason is poor visibility while backing up. The bigger the vehicle, the bigger the blind spot. SUV and pickup truck drivers can easily miss seeing entire cars and large adults. And on smaller cars, rear view mirrors let you spot vehicles behind you, but they do not do a good job of detecting young children or objects low to the ground. That’s why it’s best to always drive a vehicle equipped with a backup camera like this one pictured in a Honda Odyssey.

a car backup camera

How can you avoid injuring a person or damaging property while backing up? In an ideal situation, you’d ask a buddy to stand outside the vehicle and give you the all’s clear signal. However, that is not always practical. Auxiliary mirrors and sensors are good substitutes for another pair of eyes. You can clip auxiliary mirrors on to your rear-view and side mirrors to increase your field of vision, while sensors on your back bumper detect obstacles using ultrasound. If there is anything blocking your way, you will hear beeps that increase in frequency the closer you get.

But if you use auxiliary mirrors or sensors, do not get in the habit of relying on them. Who knows when you will find yourself having to back up in a rented or borrowed car? Here is the correct and safe method for backing up, in six easy-to-follow steps.

1. Always take time to do a quick inspection. Walk around and behind the vehicle, and check underneath.

2. Adjust seat and mirrors for good visibility.

3. Start the engine and look in both side and rear mirrors.

4. Before you start to move, honk your horn.

5. Look over your right shoulder and place your arm on the passenger seat’s headrest for stability.

6. Rather than pressing on the gas, just release the brake gently. Back up slowly and keep your foot on the brake, ready to come to a quick stop if necessary.

By following these six steps every time you back up, you will drastically reduce the chances of an accident. Is not that worth a few extra seconds of care and attention?