On Oct. 19, 2002, my wife Leslie and I soon learned the hardest lesson we will ever learn.
It was 9:30 p.m., and Leslie and I had returned from dinner with friends. My two-year-old son Cameron had been put to bed, but when we returned, Cameron heard our voices and called out for us. While Leslie went to pay the babysitter, I could not resist the temptation to go and get the little guy. When I peeked into this room, he was sitting up with a great big smile. I quickly took him out of his crib and brought him downstairs to be with Leslie and myself. After a short while, I announced I needed to move the SUV into the driveway for the evening. Cameron stayed inside as he always had done in the past.
I backed into the driveway because each morning, the street is filled with children and people walking dogs. As always, I used both side view mirrors and the rear view mirror, as well as looked over my shoulder in an attempt to avoid hitting anything.
Suddenly I noted a small bump with the front wheel and wasn’t sure what it could have been. I knew I was too far from the curb to have hit that, and that there was no newspaper in the driveway. Quickly I jumped from the vehicle and saw the most devastating scene of my life. My little Cameron was lying down with his blanket in his hand while bleeding profusely from his head.
As a physician, I knew it was the end. I did everything I could do and so did the paramedics. Cameron had died a sudden and horrible death because he was too small for me to see him behind my vehicle.
This tragedy has happened to too many families. Finally, Congress in 2008 passed the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act, requiring automakers to install rearview technology in all vehicles. In 2014, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a rule to implement the law, which will apply to all vehicles, and which will save between 13 and 15 lives per year and prevent as many as 1,125 injuries annually. The rule began being phased in last year; the technology will be required on all new cars as of May 2018.
The ability of the government to issue lifesaving regulations like these is critical.
But lawmakers are poised to take it away.
The Regulatory Accountability Act, which has passed the U.S. House of Representatives and soon will be voted on in the Senate, would effectively prevent agencies that are supposed to protect health, safety and the environment from issuing new rules and enforcing existing ones. It would affect agencies that ensure we have clean air and water, healthy food and consumer products, fair wages, safe workplaces and many other key protections.
If the legislation had been in place when Cameron died, this new, lifesaving rule would not exist.
We cannot afford to let industry run roughshod over our regulatory system. Please contact your U.S. senators and urge them to vote against the Regulatory Accountability Act.
Dr. Greg Gulbransen,
Oyster Bay, NY