(9/19/12) - In that rush to get to the store before it closes or in the frenzy of trying to get to the airport before your flight leaves, the focus is often on what is in the car–not what is around it. Safe Kids Pee Dee/Coastal encourages anyone driving a car to walk completely around it to check for children before getting in and starting the engine. This applies even to drivers who do not have children but may have children in the neighborhood.
In 2007, it is estimated that there were 5,000 injuries and 205 deaths to children under the age of 14 as a result of being hit by a vehicle in a driveway or parking area in the United States. These incidences are known as "backovers" or "frontovers," depending on which direction the car is moving. "We believe these injuries and deaths are preventable as too many result from a driver not seeing children who might be playing, running after or standing near their vehicle," says Ashley Costas, Injury Prevention Specialist for Safe Kids Pee Dee/Coastal. "What is truly tragic about these stories is that often, the drivers are friends or even family members."
Parents and caregivers can follow these tips to help make sure that children remain safe around cars:
• Before getting in the car and starting the engine, walk all the way around the parked vehicle to make sure children are not under or behind it. When possible, engage older kids as helpers to accomplish this.
• Ensure that young children are always accompanied by an adult when getting in and out of a vehicle.
• Identify a safe play area for children to use far away from parked or moving vehicles.
• Identify a safe spot for children to go when nearby vehicles are about to move.
• When walking near moving vehicles, in driveways, in parking lots, or on sidewalks–make sure to firmly hold the hand of each child who is with you.
• Avoid using driveways as play areas if moving cars have access entering or exiting these areas.
• Pay close attention to cameras or sensors available in many vehicles when backing up.
"No matter how important it is at that moment for you to get to your destination on time," says Ashley Costas, "taking a five-second walk around your car to make sure that children are not in harm's way could save your family and your child from a lifetime of physical and emotional pain."
For more information about motor vehicle safety, call Safe Kids Pee Dee/Coastal at (843) 777-5021 to speak to an Injury Prevention Specialist or visit www.McLeodSafeKids.org.
Safe Kids Pee Dee/Coastal, led by McLeod Health, works to prevent accidental childhood injury, the leading cause of death in children 14 and under. Safe Kids Pee Dee/Coastal is a member of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of organizations dedicated to preventing accidental injury. Safe Kids Pee Dee/Coastal is funded in part by the McLeod Health Foundation.