FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA / KFTA) – With the holidays here, many children and teens will likely be crossing neighborhoods on new bikes, toys, scooters, roller skates, and inline skates over the next few days.
AAA reminds drivers and parents to keep an eye out for young drivers who are enjoying their new freebies.
According to KidsAndCars.org, a nonprofit child safety organization, at least 50 children are supported in the United States each week. Over 60% of back-up incidents involve a larger vehicle such as a truck, van or SUV and mostly take place in driveways and parking lots.
Tragically, in over 70% of these incidents, a parent or loved one is behind the wheel. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that reversing crashes involving all types of vehicles cause about 183 deaths and more than 7,400 injuries each year.
Children aged 12 to 23 months are the most common victims of withdrawal incidents, according to the report. This is the age when toddlers have just started walking or running and move around to test their limits, as well as to try new things.
Children under the age of five are most at risk, but children of all ages can be involved in a rear crash.
“Young people on low toys and fast bikes, as well as children playing in neighborhoods, can be missed if drivers are not vigilant,” AAA spokesman Nick Chabarria said. “We remind drivers to be on the lookout for children excited about new riding toys and encourage parents to take road safety lessons before allowing their children to play outside.”
To help prevent tragedies, the AAA offers the following tips:
- Check your blind spots, including the blind spot behind your vehicle that you can’t see in the rear view mirror or side view mirror.
- Always assume that children may be present and carefully check streets, driveways and areas around your vehicle before backing up.
- Always look behind when backing up slowly with the windows down to listen to the children, and be prepared to stop.
- Don’t just rely on rear view cameras 100%. Research by the AAA Automotive Research Center has found that factory-installed and aftermarket rear-view cameras increase visibility in the blind area by 46% on average. However, a single camera lens mounted near the license plate does not see everything. Steep sloping pavement, as well as moisture and dirt on a camera lens can affect visibility. There is no substitute for walking around your car, looking in the mirrors and over your shoulder before putting your vehicle in reverse.
- Slow down on the streets of the neighborhood. Obey all posted speed limits.
- Watch for cyclists and toy riders. Look for cyclists on streets, medians and curbs. Excited children and teens may ignore traffic and cross streets in the middle of a block or between parked cars.
For the parents:
- Keep an eye out for children whenever someone arrives or leaves your house. Often the children follow the people who are leaving, and the driver does not know the child has crept in.
- Make sure your child has a helmet and make sure it has been properly fitted according to the manufacturer’s instructions before riding a bike or taking a ride on a toy.
- Teach children not to play in, under, or around vehicles.
- Avoid making your driveway a “playground”. If you allow children in this area, make sure it is only when vehicles are not present and separate the driveway from the roadway with a physical barrier to prevent cars from entering.
- Never leave a vehicle running and lock all cars and trucks, even in driveways and garages, to prevent curious children from starting a vehicle.
- Talk to the parents in the neighborhood about the return incidents and have them speak with their children as well.
- Review safety precautions with children. Include road safety rules in the review, such as staying on the sidewalk, crossing the street at crosswalks, avoiding walking in front of, behind, or between parked cars, and stopping in driveways to ensure that no vehicle enters or leaves.
- Never allow young children to walk in parking lots. Young children should be transported or placed in a stroller or shopping carts. Even holding hands may not stop a child from soaring.