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Car back-up alert is a sound idea

Mark Gottlieb, a product design engineer, knows about driveway danger. When he was a child, a car driven by his father backed over him. "It isn't something you forget," said Gottlieb, who was not seriously hurt. Now he has designed Back-Up Alert, a replacement automobile backup light that contains a loud beeper.

Each year more than 200 people are killed, several thousand are injured and untold numbers of pets are hit by cars backing up. Gottlieb said his Back-Up Alert is loud enough to warn a child or a pet, but not loud enough to wake the neighbors. The device can be installed in two to 15 minutes, he said; only one backup light is affected.

Gottlieb invented the alarm after a friend complained about the extensive wiring required to rig an alarm to a car's reverse gear.

Back-Up Alert fits all foreign-made cars and 90 percent of American-made cars. Only some Ford and General Motors models are incompatible.

A bill pending in Congress would make such devices standard equipment on all passenger cars and vans sold in the United States.

The Back-Up Alert costs $29.95 and is available in New York at Hammacher Schlemmer, 147 East 57th St., N.Y., N.Y., 10022 (212) 421-9000; from the manufacturer, Designtech International, 7401 Fullerton Road, Springfield, Va. 22153, (703) 866-2000, or from the Solutions catalog, (800) 821-1279).