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Spot the Tot initiative aims to prevent driveway injuries, deaths

By Jamie Lampros - Special to the Standard-Examiner | May 26, 2023

Image supplied, Intermountain Health

Drivers are being warned to Spot the Tot in order to avoid accidentally running over a child with a vehicle.

A Utah couple who lost their toddler after she was accidentally run over in their driveway is reminding people to “Spot the Tot” before pulling in or out of their home.

Nearly nine years ago, Chad and Jennifer Petersen lost their 2-year-old daughter, Natalie, after she was backed over in the driveway of their Ivins home. Despite the vehicle having backup cameras and sensors, the toddler had walked into a blindspot where she wasn’t detected.

“We were planning to go to Disneyland and were getting ready for the day,” Chad Petersen said. “Our truck had multiple cameras and backup sensors and she was still hidden by the blindspot. 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.”

The Spot the Tot program was created by Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital in 2005 and has since been adopted by child safety advocates worldwide. The program is designed to help prevent motorists from accidentally backing over a child as they pull away from their home or approach a curb.

“Within the last decade, 60 children in Utah have been killed by these accidents and 500 have been injured,” said Dr. Nate Holman, an emergency medicine physician at Intermountain St. George Regional Hospital, whose own child was injured after being backed over in a driveway. “Greater than 1,500 children have died over the past 30 years nationwide.”

Michelle Jamison, community health program manager at Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital, said children are unpredictable and have poor judgment of the potential dangers around them.

“They don’t recognize boundaries such as the yard, street, driveway, sidewalk or parking lot,” she said. “That’s why it’s especially important that drivers learn how to Spot the Tot to prevent accidental backovers and frontovers. Frontover is a new word we use. We often forget there are blindspots in front of us, but with some of these bigger vehicles, those blindspots can be up to 16 feet.”

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.

The hospital is offering Spot the Tot decals to place in the lower right corner of a driver’s side window. To obtain a free one, go to primarychildrens.org/safety.

“Spot the Tot is a great way to prevent injury and spread the word about safety,” Jennifer 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.”


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