Intermountain St. George Regional and Primary Children’s Hospital experts join family to remind drivers to “Spot the Tot” before they move their vehicle.
St. George, UT (PRUnderground) May 23rd, 2023
A family who lost their child in an accidental backover accident at their home in Ivans, Utah, is joining experts from Intermountain St. George Regional Hospital and Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital to remind Utahns to ‘Spot the Tot’ before they move their vehicle.
The Spot the Tot program was created by Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital in 2005, and has been adopted by child safety advocates around the world. It’s designed to prevent motorists from accidentally rolling over a small child as they pull away from a curb or driveway because they’re unable to see them.
Spot the Tot safety messages are critical at this time of year, as many of these accidental injuries take place in spring and summer when children are more likely to be playing outside.
Children are difficult to see if they’re within 16 feet of a vehicle’s front or back bumper, even if the vehicle has backup cameras.
“Children are unpredictable. They often have poor judgement and little understanding of danger and no impulse control. They don’t recognize boundaries such as the yard, street, driveway, sidewalk or parking lot,” said Michelle Jamison, community health program manager at Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital. “That’s why it’s especially important that drivers learn how to Spot the Tot to prevent accidental backovers and frontovers.”
More than 60 Utah children have been killed, and more than 500 have been injured, by accidental backovers and frontovers in the past decade.
Nationwide, more than 1,500 children have died in such accidents between 1990-2021, according to KidsandCars.org. The organization also says that number is likely undercounted, because states don’t have an official data collection system for this.
Jennifer and Chad Petersen know well the heartache of these statistics. Their daughter, Natalie, died in a backover accident at their home in 2014, just a few weeks shy of her third birthday, as the family was preparing to go on a trip to Disneyland.
Natalie was wearing her helmet and riding her little bike when she was called into the house to get ready. She zipped into the garage, and then out of her mother’s view. Her dad got in his truck, started backing up, and accidentally struck Natalie. The child never appeared in the truck’s backup cameras because she was so small and close to the bumper.
“Natalie was special from the moment she was born,” Chad Petersen said. “We’re sharing her story to help others. It keeps her name spoken, and gives us a sense of purpose to do things that are helpful in her name.”
“We feel passionate that we try to turn this horrible experience of losing her into some kind of good, where we can teach other people,” Jen Petersen said. “We love the Spot the Tot program and what it can to do for the community.”
Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital experts offer the following tips to Spot the Tot:
- Walk all the way around the vehicle before you get in to ensure children are not behind you.
- Turn off distractions, including your mobile phone and music.
- Roll down the windows and listen for children.
- Ask an adult to stay with kids while you exit a driveway to improve safety.
Frontovers, which happen when a driver is moving slowly forward and doesn’t see a pedestrian, often take place in residential driveways or parking lots. They can happen in any vehicle because all vehicles have a front blind zone that can be up to 15 feet in front of the bumper.
While many vehicles are equipped with detection devices like backup cameras or warning sounds, these devices have blind spots. Nothing can replace drivers walking around the vehicle to make sure children are safely out of the way before backing out, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports.
“Injury prevention is something I’m passionate about as an emergency room doctor,” said Nate Holman, MD, an emergency medicine physician at Intermountain St. George Regional Hospital. “I’m also passionate about it as a father. My daughter was injured a few years ago when she was backed over in a driveway by a relative. She survived and is doing very well, but the accident has been tremendously difficult for the driver. We can all work together as a community to Spot the Tot and prevent accidental injuries.”
Primary Children’s Hospital offers Spot the Tot stickers, which are about 2 inches around and designed to go in the lower right corner of a vehicle’s driver’s side window, to remind people walk all the way around the car before getting in. Stickers, safety tips and more are available at primarychildrens.org/safety, and at St. George Regional Hospital and clinics while supplies last.
The Petersens and their six children, now ages 3 to 19 years old, continue to encourage safety in their community.
They host a neighborhood event every Nov. 11, on Natalie’s birthday. They’ve provided Spot the Tot safety information, helmet and bike safety demonstrations, and other activities hosted by local law enforcement and community members. They also continue teaching their young children safe bike riding and helmet safety, teach Spot the Tot and other safety techniques to their own teen drivers, and have brought safety information and Spot the Tot stickers to their children’s preschool.
“Spot the Tot is a great way to prevent injury and spread the word about safety,” Jen Petersen said. “It also doesn’t have to stop there. We can all be more proactive and assess what we could be doing differently to keep our communities safer for all children.”
Spot the Tot is part of the Primary Children’s Hold On To Dear Life injury prevention initiative, as well as Intermountain Health’s Primary Promise to create the nation’s model health system for children.
For more information about Spot the Tot, please visit primarychildrens.org/safety or Intermountain St. George Regional Hospital and clinics.
About Intermountain Health
Headquartered in Utah with locations in seven states and additional operations across the western U.S., www.intermountainhealth.org is a nonprofit system of 33 hospitals, 385 clinics, medical groups with some 3,900 employed physicians and advanced care providers, a health plans division called SelectHealth with more than one million members, and other health services. Helping people live the healthiest lives possible, Intermountain is committed to improving community health and is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare by using evidence-based best practices to consistently deliver high-quality outcomes at sustainable costs. For more information or updates, see https://intermountainhealthcare.org/news.