Children are put in danger every year by motor vehicles in ways that many people probably can’t even imagine. In addition to the threat posed by a hot vehicle on a sweltering summer day, children can be injured or worse due to a vehicle moving too quickly out of a parking stall, an improperly latched car seat, or simply becoming trapped in the trunk when they thought they were just playing.
A new report finds an organization known as Kidsandcars.org offering some safety advice and detailing some of the biggest risks to children. The founder notes that, while vehicle-based heatstroke is still a danger, the number of fatalities caused by a vehicle backing up has actually eclipsed the hot car threat, while the number of deaths from pulling forward was right on that situation’s heels. And the Dayton, Ohio Children’s Hospital Trauma Program Manager points out that car seats also lead to their share of injuries and fatalities when not properly installed.
Thankfully, there are things you can do to mitigate the risk of an injury. You can start by speaking with your children. Stress that a motor vehicle is not a toy or a piece of playground equipment. Instead, explain that automobiles can start moving without notice and that kids are to give them a wide berth unless accompanied by an adult.
When it comes to your own habits, you should get into a pattern of activating the emergency brake every time you park and circling your vehicle every time you need to drive. This applies to both your home and in parking lots. When a lot is full, kids might dart out unexpectedly, and you need to be completely aware of your surroundings to avoid a tragedy.
Make sure your kids are in the vehicle or that you otherwise know where they are prior to putting an automobile into gear. If they’re outside, have them stand someplace you can see and monitor them while you’re pulling away. You can help your cause by investing in rearview cameras or other technology that better illuminates those blind spots that you’d otherwise not be able to view.
When it come to car seats, you ought to heed the advice of the American Academy of Pediatrics so that an accident doesn’t have to necessarily lead to serious injuries. Rear-facing is the way to go until your child reaches applicable height and weight limits, typically coming into play at the age of two. From there, kids should switch to a forward-facing, five-point car seat.
But you’re not done even then. After that comes the booster seat, which ought to be used until a child is 4 foot 9 (this typically occurs between 8 and 12 years old). 13 is also the time a child will finally be allowed into the front seat. Any earlier than that and they could be harmed by the excessive forces of an airbag.