By Dawn Cranfield
Personal Responsibility Takes a Hiatus as Washington Woman Wants Car Manufactures to Change Practices Due to Her Daughter’s Death
Judy Neiman, a Richland, Washington, resident is lobbying Congress to reevaluate safety features on vehicles and force car manufacturers to install rearview cameras and video displays as standard equipment. Neiman backed over and killed her 9-year-old daughter in 2011, thinking the little girl had already buckled herself into the car.
The girl and her mother had gone to the bank in the family’s 2006 Cadillac SUV so Sydnee could deposit her $5 allowance into her account, when Neiman heard the distinct slamming of the car door. Thinking it was young Sydnee
climbing into the car, she backed out; however, it was the little girl’s companion who had shut the door while she had gone behind the vehicle.
Sydnee, who previously had survived four open-heart surgeries, was struck and killed when her mother did not notice she was not in the car and could not see her through the rearview mirror. “They have to do something, because I’ve read about it happening to other people. I read about it and I said, ‘I would die if it happens to me,’ Neiman said. “Then it did happen to me.” (dailymail.co)
Statistically speaking, these types of accidents kill an average of just over 220 people a year, half of them children under age 10; still, another 17,000 individuals are injured.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the seemingly low cost of an additional $55-$88 for vehicles already equipped with a dashboard display or $159-$203 without one appears very low and well-worth the price.
However, during a recent study at Oregon State University (OSU), it was found that only 20% of the drivers who had the technology available to them used the rearview cameras. Additionally, automakers are also concerned that with all of the safety standards being required, “the cumulative effect of federal safety regulations is driving up the average price of a new car, now about $25,000.” (dailymail.co)
Placing cameras on every new car would not alleviate the issue for several reasons: 1) how many families will rush out and replace their current family car with a new one as soon as the cameras are installed? It could take years before every car on the road is at the level of technological advancement required to meet these standards. My first car was a 1957 Chevrolet, and it was 1985; I drove it for years, it would never meet the industry standards of today. 2) According to the study at OSU, only 20% of the drivers would use the tools anyway.
While I am empathetic to any mother who has lost her child, or any family that loses a loved one, every death is tragic; it is not always appropriate to take out your frustration on the government, the auto industry, the schools, or some convenient entity. We have become such a litigious society that it is often difficult to determine when we need to look inward and accept personality responsibility for what happens in our life. It can be challenging, but it can be done.