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The dangers of blind spots and SUVs in Washington

Many people in Washington have prescribed to a "bigger is better" lifestyle. People want big houses, big yards, big meals and big cars. This has led to the creation of very large passenger vehicles called sport utility vehicles, or SUVs. Despite their popularity, these vehicles are not safer than traditional passenger cars. This can be seen in a recent case highlighted on this blog. In that case, a Seattle man and his small child were hit by an SUV as the car's driver tried to parallel park the large vehicle. In this auto-pedestrian accident, the man was injured and sent to a local hospital.

There are many dangers associated with SUVs. One serious danger are blind spots. Unlike many smaller passenger vehicles, SUVs have very large blind spots due to their enormous size and their design -- including shorter rear windows and higher rear decks. Blind spots are areas of the vehicle where it is impossible for the driver to see small objects and obstacles. In many cases, this object is a young child standing behind an SUV or car.

According to some studies, up to 18,000 people suffer serious injuries each year in back-over crashes related to blind spots, and around 300 people are killed. In 70 percent of cases, the victims of these auto-pedestrian accidents are children hit by relatives.

With such a high risk, people need to understand how dangerous their blind spots really are. In a small car, the average driver has about a 12 foot long blind spot for a small object -- a 28 inch high cone, for example. However, in a small SUV that blind spot increases to 13 feet and up to 19 feet in a large SUV. Minivans have around a 15 foot long blind spot in these cases. If the driver is shorter, the blind spot can increase.

People should be aware of the blind spots associated with their vehicle and take caution to avoid an accident. If someone is careless and causes an auto-pedestrian accident, then the victims may want to speak with an attorney to protect their legal rights.

Source: Consumer Reports, "The danger of blind zones," April 2014

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