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Increasing Number Of Children Killed in 'Frontover' Accidents

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- There is a growing concern involving blind zones and vehicles.

As of May 8, 2017, there have been 16 children who have been killed in frontover accidents. That's where a driver doesn't see a child in front of their car and accidentally pulls forward, striking and killing the child.

The growing number of accidents involve our growing fleet of large vehicles like SUVs and pickup trucks.

According to Kids and Cars, a safety organization which tracks these sorts of accidents, the number of fatalities in frontovers has gone from 24 between 1996 and 2000 to 358 between 2006 and 2010.

"It's something that happens in an instant," says Janette Fennell, the founder of Kids and Cars. "Everyone think's that when we look out the windshield, we can see everything, but nothing can be further from the truth."

One of the most publicized cases in 2017 happened Easter weekend in Arizona. Former NFL player Todd Heap hit and killed his 3-year-old daughter, Holly, in a frontover accident in their driveway. Heap never saw the little girl when he went to move his truck.

80 percent of frontovers involve larger vehicles, and most accidents involve parents behind the wheel.

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"You can't avoid hitting something you can't see," says Fennell.

The blind zones in front of pickup trucks and SUVs can be up to 8 feet.

Julie Farber, a mother of four, was shocked to learn how big the blind spot was in front of her SUV.

In an experiment with her vehicle and her 5-year-old son Jake, KDKA reporter Susan Koeppen put Jake on a scooter and asked Farber if she could see her son who was sitting by the bumper. "No," responded Farber.

It wasn't until Jake moved eight feet from the bumper that Farber could see her son's head. And after 16 feet, she could see his whole body.

"I found this very alarming.  I always thought you would be able to see a child in front of the vehicle but this obviously proved me wrong, " said Farber.

Most victims  are toddlers -- predominantly children 12 to 23 months.

In 70 percent of these accidents -- it's a parent or close relative behind the wheel.

To prevent accidents, experts recommend you always walk around your vehicle before moving it and  teach your kids that drivers can't always see them.

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