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Sunday, April 25, 2010

If You Drive a Car, Read This (It Will Save a Child's Life)

Photo of parking spaces in an American Parking...Image via Wikipedia
Today was the second time in a little over a week that a child was killed in our area by a family member who backed over them in their car. This type of thing happens every spring and summer and it is a tragedy for everyone each time it happens--for the child, the driver, the family, the EMS and LE responders, neighbors, etc.
When the weather gets warm, children are outside and they really don't care much where they play, they are just happy to be outside playing. Kids don't consider that people in cars can't see them. Kid's don't consider that playing in the driveway could be unsafe. Kid's don't make it a point to alert drivers to their location so that the driver will not make the mistake of driving over them. So, it is up to driver to take precautions in order to not have such a tragedy happen to them. These include:
  • Backing into your parking space. I do this out of habit for a few reasons, one of which is that when I am driving towards a parking space, I have the opportunity to see the surrounding area and note if children are present or not before I start backing in. Obviously if there are children running around near where I am going to park, I will ensure they are out of the way before backing in. This tends to be safer then pulling into a parking space then backing out when I am ready to leave.
  • I walk completely around my vehicle before getting in and leaving. Yes, the neighbors probably think I am daft and wonder what I am looking for, however it is a good habit to get into, again, for a couple of reasons, one of which is to ensure that there are no children/bikes/toys/animals/etc. in front of or behind my vehicle.
  • I try to know where people are when I leave my home. Obviously you can't account for neighbor kids, but knowing exactly where your own family members are when you leave can help ensure that they aren't somewhere that they aren't supposed to be (also taking a moment to say goodbye or hug each family member before you leave home is a good thing to do in case you never see them again, but that is a different post...).
  • When the kids were younger we had strict rules about where they could play (absolutely not in the driveway) and what happened to their stuff if they left it laying around, again, specifically not in the driveway (we may have been the only family that impounded bikes, skateboards, and any other items we found left laying in the driveway or road in front of our house).
Doing these few things only takes a minute or two extra each time you leave your home and could save a life. With the size and design of most cars these days, there is absolutely no way to see anyone--child or adult-- if they happen to be sitting (and in some cases even standing) behind your vehicle. I have seen these tragic accidents happen too many times over the years. The consequences for the person who drives over and kills a child (as well as the rest of the family) are too numerous to define. Suffice it to say there is no "getting over" the death of a child--siblings are impacted literally for the rest of their lives, marriages more often than not tend to dissolve after such tragedies, depression, post traumatic stress, and even suicides are not uncommon results of these kinds of accidents. A couple extra minutes of your time can help ensure that such a tragic accident doesn't happen to you or a loved one.

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