Although the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does not keep statistics on non-crash, non-traffic fatalities, an organization started by a passionate mother of two children does. Janette Fennell founded www.kidsandcars.org as a non-profit focused on preventing injuries and deaths of children in and around cars.
One focus of the work of www.kidsandcars.org is to collect statistics on back-over injuries and deaths and the numbers are alarming. In 2003, at least 91 children were backed over and killed in or around their own driveways – that is more than one child per week. Of those deaths, most were children 4 years old or younger and most were backed over by larger vehicles, light trucks, SUVs, vans or pick-ups. Back overs also occur far too often with delivery trucks, garbage trucks and other service vehicles that routinely travel through residential neighborhoods. All of these vehicles have large blind zones at the rear of the vehicle that children can inadvertently enter without the driver noticing. Although dangers can crop up at any moment, families can work together to keep safety on everyone’s mind.
- Pay attention to regularly scheduled vehicles in the neighborhood. Garbage trucks, recycling vehicles, postal vehicles and other package delivery services, such as UPS and FedEx, typically keep pretty regular schedules for particular neighborhoods. Make sure the kids know when such vehicles are in the area and teach them to stay out of the way.
- Teach your kids to keep an eye out for non-scheduled vehicles in the neighborhood. These vehicles might be home service vehicles like plumbers, painters, cable television, satellite television and phone repair trucks.
- Be aware of service vehicles that only appear when certain circumstances arise. When it snows, snow plows will appear. When storms roll through and power goes out, repair vehicles will be dispatched. Teach your kids to steer clear of these vehicles when they are around because they can start moving without notice.
Teaching your kids to be aware of their surroundings is the best defense against the dangers that can pop up in front of your home and down the street.
Bret Hanna of Wrona DuBois in Utah, focuses exclusively on litigating plaintiffs’ medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. He has represented clients in state and federal courts, in mediations, and in administrative proceedings in Michigan and Utah since 1991.