U.S. Senator Takes Action After I-Team Investigation of Blind Zones

Sen. Richard Blumenthal calls federal data on "frontover" crashes “lacking”

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Just days after a News4 I-Team investigation into accidents involving blind zones in front of vehicles, a United States senator is demanding answers from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration.

"I was blown away by how children can be at real imminent risk. Absolutely shocking and astonishing that that kind of danger still exists in America with all our modern technology," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal from Connecticut, who sits on the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.

Last week the I-Team aired a demonstration involving Virginia parents and their children showing just how large the blind zone can be on SUVs or trucks.

One by one, we sat children in front of a secured SUV to see how many it would take before mom Christy Weeden spotted them.

Ten children were lined up in front of the vehicle before she saw them. The blind zone was an alarming 16 feet.

"Wow. That's a lot of kids. And they're not squished up either," said Weeden.

"That number of kids at that distance from the car could be at such real risk was just mind-blowing," Blumenthal said after watching the I-Team report.

"That segment was really scary. It was really frightening to see those kids lined up for that length in front of the car. Any car manufacturer seeing that kind of demonstration ought to be appalled and scared because it could be their kids in front of the car, could be anyone."

But it's not just a hypothetical for Jackie Foschi and her family.  She was behind the wheel when it happened back in 2019 at their Virginia home.

Her 4-year-old son Hudson died after being run over by the family SUV in their driveway.

Experts point to larger SUVs leading to an increase in incidents; an eye-opening demonstration shows the potential danger. Consumer Investigative Reporter Susan Hogan explains.

"I looked everywhere first screaming. And then I saw him and I ripped him out from under the car. I was hoping he was joking, but he wasn’t. I never saw him," Foschi told the I-Team.

"The technology that’s out there and that I have in my new vehicle, he would still be here, he would," she said.

The latest data from NHTSA on these types of accidents shows that in 2015 there were 366 deaths and 15,000 injuries due to forward-moving vehicles, also known as frontovers.

Blumenthal said more up-to-date information is needed.

"These deaths are needless, tragic and avoidable," he told the I-Team.

Sen. Blumenthal's letter to the NHTSA

That's why he just sent a letter to the NHTSA requesting details on how many frontovers are happening each year.

“The data is old and it is really confusing and basically lacking. The data is nowhere near what it should be for there to be informed and effective action,” he said.

He also wants to know what steps the NHTSA has taken to prevent frontovers and, if none, why not. The agency has until Aug. 26 to respond.

The I-Team reached out to NHTSA for comment.

A spokesperson said the agency had received the letter and looked forward to reviewing it.

All vehicles sold in the U.S. were mandated to have backup cameras starting in 2018 — but not front view cameras.

“I'm going to be advocating for more visibility, more technology installed mandatorily on cars. The only question on my mind is what system works best, whether it's sensors or front viewing cameras, just as we have back viewing cameras now on cars which I crusaded to mandate,” said Blumenthal.

"The reason why this issue is such a priority is it's so easily solvable. We did it for cars going backward. Why not going forward? Absolutely outrageous that in this day and age, with all this stuff in cars, all the technology, all the computers, kids are still at risk if they're in front of a vehicle, that's absolutely intolerable."

Reported by Susan Hogan; produced by Rick Yarborough; shot by Steve Jones and Carlos Olazagasti; and edited by Carlos Olazagasti.

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