Prevent accidents with these tips for drivers, parents and kids.
When the weather warms up, more children will be out and about playing. It’s important to keep them safe. Unfortunately, a host of vehicle-related mishaps unfold every spring. KidsAndCars.org is a national nonprofit devoted to keeping children safe in and around motor vehicles. Janette E. Fennell, founder/president of KidsAndCars.org, shares three instances when drivers and parents need to be hyper aware.
Backovers and Rollovers
At least 50 children are backed over by vehicles every week, Fennel explains, and more than 60 percent of these incidents involve larger vehicles, like trucks and SUVs. Rollovers are a hazard, too.
“Young children are impulsive and unpredictable,” Fennell says. “They still have very poor judgment and little understanding of danger. In addition, they do not recognize boundaries such as property lines, sidewalks, driveways or parking spaces.”
Keep in mind that the blind zone behind your vehicle can be more than 50 feet—and there’s a second blind zone within 6 to 8 feet of the front of the car. Walk all the way around a vehicle before you move it. If children are playing near your vehicle, make sure they move to a place where you can clearly see them before you back out or move forward.
Teach your children that a “parked” vehicle can move at any time, and that the driver may not be able to see them. When your vehicle is parked, use your safety brake to keep your vehicle from rolling away. Don’t allow children to play in the regular path of a vehicle—such as just outside the garage door. For further protection, consider adding cross-view mirrors, a rearview video camera or audible collision detectors to your vehicles.
Children will climb into a car and “pretend” to take it for a spin. It’s possible for a child to knock the vehicle into motion, especially if keys are in the ignition or the vehicle lacks safety features that prevent gear changes.
“This is a reason why you need to keep the car locked at all times,” Fennell says. “Keys and remote openers should never be within reach of your kids.”
Alone in a Car
Never leave your children in an automobile, even for the time it takes you to run into a store. An average of 38 children die of heat stroke every year after being left inside a hot vehicle, according to ConsumerReports.org. When it’s 70 degrees outside, the inside of an automobile can quickly reach 120 degrees. And a child’s temperature rises three to five times faster than an adult’s.
Parents don’t normally leave children in cars intentionally, but they make a mistake due to stress, distractions, a lack of sleep or a change in a routine, Fennell says. “Young children—especially babies—often fall asleep in cars, becoming quiet, unobtrusive passengers,” she explains. “Sadly for babies in rear-facing seats, many times you cannot tell if the seat is occupied when you exit a vehicle.”
To avoid this, Fennell recommends you put something you need (cell phone, handbag, wallet, etc.) on the floorboard in the back seat. Make it a habit to open the back door of your vehicle when you arrive at your destination, no matter what. You could put a stuffed animal in your child’s car seat, and move it to the front seat with you when you place your child in the car seat to remind you there’s a person back there.