Traffic accidents often conjure images of a highway wrecks, intersection mishaps, or drunk drivers. While those types of collisions can and do occur, most motor vehicle incidents happen closer to home. Each day children are killed or injured in motor-vehicle related incidents within one mile of their place of residence. In some cases these accidents happen without leaving the property or starting the car. Learning about these dangers and staying alert is critical to your family’s safety.
Same Street Safety
If you commute on a daily basis, you’re probably used to traveling at high rates of speed. Most highways are 65–75 mph zones, and nonresidential streets are often labeled at a 40 mph minimum. If you’re not alert, it’s easy to keep speeding through residential areas without intending to do so. Residential speed limits can seem like a crawl when you’ve just spent 30 minutes driving much faster. Statistics show children are three times more likely to be hit by a car when it is exceeding 25 mph. Even at that speed, you are moving over 100 feet in less than three seconds. Take a moment to think about that. It does not give you a lot of time to react. Make a point of slowing down in residential areas. The few extra seconds it takes you to get home can mean life or death.
Backovers and Frontovers
Each week in the United States, over 50 children are backed over, and two die. The statistics are even higher for frontovers. While we hear plenty of stories about children left in cars and injured or killed by heatstroke, we must be just as vigilant to the risks our children are exposed to in our driveways. Backovers and frontovers make up 64% of non-traffic related vehicle fatalities each year. It is critical to be aware of your surroundings when entering or leaving the home by vehicle. Do not rely solely on a backup camera. Take extra steps to ensure small children cannot leave the home unattended, and manually check your surroundings before moving. While most of us worry about other drivers, we’re often to blame for tragic circumstances. In 70% of these incidents, a parent or relative is behind the wheel.
Heatstroke is responsible for 16% of non-traffic fatalities each year—and it’s entirely preventable. Never leave small children unattended in a car for any length of time. Even in cooler months, a car left in the sun can reach well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit in a short period of time. No matter how rushed we are, stop and ensure no child (or pet) is left in the car before you leave and lock the doors. Put a reminder note on your dashboard, if you need to, and do not ever make exceptions, even if you think you’ll only be a minute. Since 1998, an average of 38 children die from car-related heatstroke each year.
One of a parent’s worst nightmares is their child being hurt or killed in motor vehicle incident. While there is no way to eliminate all risk related to travel, there are some simple things we can do to minimize them. Take it slow around town, stay alert when leaving or entering your home, and never leave a child unattended in a car. These behaviors will go a long way toward ensuring the safety of your most precious cargo.