It’s been nearly three years since the death of 14-month-old Jaylen Halley. He was killed in Lee County in December 2013 in a common – and preventable – mishap when a car driven by a relative backed up in a driveway and ran over him. South Carolina Highway Patrol troopers wanted to make sure everyone who heard about the incident knew it takes only a second, and that drivers should never back up unless they are sure there is no one and nothing behind.
But these types of incidents – as well as other so-called “non-traffic crashes” – were not studied intensively by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The organization Kids and Cars (KidsandCars.org) has studied the issue of child vehicle backovers, but it isn’t a government agency.
Now, almost 10 years after Congress began requiring the agency to start collecting and maintaining information pertinent to these type of events (referred to as “non-traffic accidents”), the agency has released its first report. It defined non-traffic crashes as those that occur off public traffic ways. These are mostly single-vehicle crashes that happen on private roads or two-vehicle crashes that happen in parking facilities or pedestrian accidents that occur in driveways. (The agency also has been investigation “non-traffic incidents,” which might involve situations like a vehicle falling on top of a person or unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning or a child getting trapped or left in a vehicle.)
When it comes to just the non-traffic crashes, the NHTSA reported an average of 1,900 people died every year of these accidents, as based on data collected between 2012 and 2014. About one-third of those killed in these incidents were pedestrians and bicyclists.
In addition to those who suffered fatalities, there were 92,000 people injured in these crashes – with a third being non-occupants.
In cases that involved fatalities of non-occupants (i.e., pedestrians, bicyclists, etc.):
- 42 percent – Forward-moving vehicles
- 35 percent – Backing vehicles
- 19 percent – Rollaway vehicles
- 4 percent – Other (stopped, disabled, parked)
In cases involving occupants:
- 94 percent Single-vehicle crashes
- 6 percent multiple-vehicle crashes
The NHTSA collected its information from police accident reports, trauma registries, hospital records, insurance company data and newspaper stories. The agency noted that there were numerous local police agencies that did not supply the requested information, and researchers tried to weight the findings to account for that.
It should be noted that liability for accidents that occur on private property – i.e., a parking garage or a driveway – are generally the same as they would be for accidents that occur on public roads. These incidents should still be immediately reported to police. Although law enforcement may be reticent to participate in creating a report (because they don’t have jurisdiction and can’t issue a citation), it’s important that you obtain formal documentation of the incident. Most insurance companies are reluctant to pay any claim without a police report, so this is an important step.
You may also want to consider that the property owner – in addition to the operator of the vehicle – bore some responsibility for the personal injury that resulted via failure to maintain the property in a safe condition.
If you have been injured in a non-traffic accident, we can help.
Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
Non-Traffic Surveillance: Fatality and Injury Statistics in Non-Traffic Crashes, 2012 to 2014, Aug. 2016, NHTSA
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Does South Carolina Need to Do More to Protect High School Athletes From Heat? Sept. 11, 2016, Greenville Personal Injury Lawyer Blog