Safety-conscious adults realize that driveways and parking lots are danger zones for children, but I was surprised by some recent information I read about the extent of the risk.
A recent InjuryBoard newsletter included details from Kids and Cars, a non-profit advocacy group that hopes to end non-traffic car accident injuries to children. According to the organization, today’s large SUVs and trucks may have a rear blind-spot up to 50 feet long! The average age of a child involved in a back-over accident is between 12 and 23 months. Compounding the tragedy, statistics show that in more than 70 percent of such accidents, a parent or close relative is driving the vehicle.
I personally have handled several cases of kids badly hurt by driveway accidents. It is ALWAYS a good idea to be very careful when driving into or out of driveways. We all know that young kids are unpredictable and have no conception of just how dangerous a car can be.
Here are 15 tips from Kids and Cars to protect children from driveway back-over accidents:
- Walk around and behind a vehicle prior to moving it.
- Know where your children are. Make kids move away from your vehicle to a place where they are in full view before moving the car and know that another adult is properly supervising children before moving your vehicle.
- Teach children that “parked” cars might move. Let them know that they can see the vehicle, but the driver might not be able to see them.
- Consider installing safety devices: cross-view mirrors, audible collision detectors, rear-view video camera and or some type of back-up detection device.
- Measure the size of the blind-zone area behind the vehicle(s) you drive. A 5-foot, 1-inch driver in a pickup truck can have a rear blind zone that is approximately 8 feet wide and 50 feet long.
- Be aware that steep inclines and large SUVs, vans and trucks add to the difficulty of seeing behind a vehicle.
- Hold children’s hands when leaving the vehicle.
- Teach your children to NEVER play in, around or behind a vehicle.
- Keep toys and other sports equipment off the driveway.
- Homeowners should trim landscaping around the driveway to ensure they can see the sidewalk, street and pedestrians clearly when backing out of their driveway. Pedestrians also need to be able to see a vehicle pulling out of the driveway.
- Never leave children alone in or around cars, not even for a minute.
- Keep vehicles locked at all times, even in the garage or driveway, and always set your parking brake.
- Keys and/or remote openers should never be left within reach of children.
- Make sure all child passengers have left the car after it is parked.
- Be especially careful about keeping children safe in and around cars during busy times, schedule changes and periods of crisis or holidays.
Change is in sight
In February 2008, The Cameron Grubransen Kids Transportation Safety Act was signed into law by President Bush. Two-year-old Cameron was killed in a back-over accident. His father was driving the family’s SUV, and did not see Cameron in the vehicle’s blind spot.
The tragedy inspired legislation which enables the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration to require safety improvements in new vehicles – features including rear-view cameras, automatic shutoffs on power windows, and brake improvements to prevent rollaway cars. All will help prevent injuries to children – amazingly, many of these features are standard on vehicles in Europe.
It may take 4 to 8 years for the Act to have an impact. Even as vehicles improve, ultimately the safety of children depends on drives. It is important that we, as the adult drivers, be extra cautious particularly when we know that there are kids in the area. As always, simple precautions can prevent serious injuries.
Thanks for reading,
James B. Reed, Esq.
NY Accident Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William St., Elmira, NY 14902
Tel. (607) 733-8866 Fax. (607) 732-6062
Toll Free 1-800-943-3529
E-mail me at FreeReports@zifflaw.com for two free books:
NY Car Accidents and NY Car Insurance Secrets YOU Need to Know.