Hundreds of people — mostly children — are killed each year nationwide, and thousands more are injured, by a vehicle going in reverse.

Steve Frost, ThinkStock

New Jersey is no stranger to the problem.

In December, a 2-year-old boy was killed in Lakewood when his aunt decided to switch her parking spot.

Two years prior in Lakewood, another 2-year-old died from injuries sustained when a neighbor backed out of their driveway.

A toddler in Sewell was killed by a car reversing out of its family's driveway in October 2010.

Countless close calls dot the years in between.

"Some of these tragedies are kids just playing directly behind the vehicle," Jim Lardear, AAA MId-Atlantic's director of public and government affairs, told New Jersey 101.5. "It's really incumbent on the driver to be in control, and that means when you approach your vehicle, just take a look. Are there kids on your street? Do your children play in your driveway? Do your neighbors' kids play in your driveway?"

Lardear said while many newer vehicles are equipped with backup cameras, motorists shouldn't rely only on the technology when backing out of a driveway or parking spot.

"There's still going to be that blind spot — the gap between what you can see and what you can't see," he said.

Rear visibility technology is required in all new vehicles under 10,000 pounds by May 2018, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced in 2014.

That announcement noted there are, on average, 210 fatalities and 15,000 injuries per year caused by "backover crashes." And the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that children under 5 account for nearly a third of the fatalities each year. Adults over the age of 69 account for 26 percent.

Beyond looking over their shoulder, Lardear added, drivers during these warmer months can back up with a window down in order to listen for children or their toys.

Lardear echoes advice typically offered by AAA during the busy holiday shopping season as a way to avoid a parking lot nightmare: when possible, find a parking spot that can be exited by driving forward instead of reversing.

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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.

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