U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut has expressed concern over vehicle blind spots after an NBC affiliate in Washington, D.C. aired a segment demonstrating how the blind spots on certain large SUV and truck models can put pedestrians at risk, particularly small children.
Washington-based NBC affiliate NBC4 aired a segment last week that used a K2XX-generation Chevy Tahoe to demonstrate to parents how difficult it is to see small children over the hood of a large SUV or truck. Sen. Blumenthal was among the viewers that saw the segment and is now calling on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to investigate the matter more closely.
“I’m extremely troubled that large blind zones in front of SUVs are reportedly causing senseless deaths of children,” Blumenthal said in a letter that was sent to NHTSA Administrator Steven Cliff this week. “In such instances, called frontovers,” tragedy strikes because a child in front of the car is not visible above the car’s hood and no warning occurs.”
Blumenthal went on to request NHTSA amend its steps for collecting and sharing public data that may be relevant to ‘frontover’ style accidents, and suggested NHTSA implement a mandatory front-facing camera or sensors. The last non-traffic-related NHTSA data summary was released in 2018 using data from 2015, and did not explicitly identify frontovers or how many of these accidents occur in the U.S. each year. Blumenthal also asked NHTSA to provide data on how many of these accidents have occurred since 2015, and to provide the injury and fatality data for each year.
Many modern-day large SUV and truck models carry a frontal blind zone of up to sixteen feet, making it difficult to see children or smaller pedestrians standing in front of the vehicle. Congress ordered NHTSA to implement standard backup cameras in new production vehicles in 2007, which finally came into effect in 2014, but a similar rule does not apply to the front end of vehicles. Such a requirement could mandate large vehicles to include front-facing cameras or sensors to warn drivers of objects obstructing the vehicle’s path.
NBC4’s report on frontover-style accidents is embedded below.