Parents have been backing up to me with lots of questions about driveway safety and their children. Let me drive through a few thoughts on this topic.
Some of the worst accidents to children occur right in the driveway. This happens when parents do not see their children as they are backing out or pulling in. Most driveway accidents occur on weekdays between 8 and 10 am and between 4 and 6 pm, often when it is bright outside.
Children under 2 are more apt to be struck by a vehicle, often a large truck or SUV. Rear-facing visibility can be poor in these vehicles and the blind spots can be large. But even smaller cars can be a problem. Accidents involving children over 5 years of age can also involve a child being unsupervised in the vehicle with the motor idling who then gets behind the wheel and tries to drive the car.
Driveway accidents are preventable once you become aware of these dangers and follow some safety rules.
- Do not use a driveway as a playground. If it is a play area, then block it off to prevent cars from pulling in.
- Teach children never to play in, under, or around vehicles. Create a safe spot for children to wait when vehicles are coming or going.
- Always check completely around a vehicle before backing out. Know where every child is and do a head count to be sure. This is not a bad idea for your outdoor pets, as well.
- If you own a light truck or SUV, consider installing extended mirrors or a backup warning device. This can improve the view and safety behind your vehicle.
- Never leave your car running or the keys in the ignition with children nearby.
Feel free to share this information with neighborhood parents as well. Hopefully tips like these will lock away any concerns you have when it comes to keeping your children safe on and around your driveway.
Lewis First, MD, is chief of Pediatrics at The University of Vermont Children’s Hospital and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the Robert Larner, M.D. College of Medicine at the University of Vermont. You can also catch “First with Kids” weekly on WOKO 98.9FM and WPTZ Channel 5, or visit the First with Kids video archives at www.UVMHealth.org/MedCenterFirstWithKids.