Vehicle rollaway is one of the top six common dangers for a child. When my nearly twenty year old was just a toddler, I left her in the car for just a moment, while I closed the garage door. I hadn’t put her in the car seat yet. She scrambled between the seats and pulled back on the gear shift, putting the car in neutral. It should have locked in the park position, but, unbeknownst to me, the lock feature was not working. Good to know, but a little too late. My driveway is very steep. The car began to roll backwards. I had left my driver side door open, so I was able to jump in the driver seat, just in time to slam on the brakes and put the car in park. Of course, I pulled the parking brake which was also acting faulty at the time. I immediately put her in her car seat and drove to the dealership to get these two issues fixed. And I never left her loose in the car again after that. It was just luck that I was close enough to be able to stop the car. Next time, maybe not so lucky. So, here are some tips for child safety in and around cars.
As I mentioned above, there are six common dangers for a child in and around cars. Backover, heatstroke, seatbelt entanglement, power windows and trunk entrapment are the other five common dangers. A good prevention tip list to go by:
- Do not let children play in or around cars.
- Never leave a child unattended in or around a vehicle.
- Always ensure children are properly restrained.
- Teach children that seat belts are not toys.
- Always hold a child’s hand when walking through a parking lot.
Backovers can be prevented if you take a few extra minutes before backing out and follow these simple rules. Always walk around your vehicle and check the area around it before backing up. Roll down your windows so you can hear what’s going on around your car. Teach children to move away from a vehicle when a driver gets in it or if a car is running. This also goes for parking lots.
Heatstroke can occur at temperatures as low as 60 degrees. Always check the back seats of your vehicle before your lock it and walk away. Keep a stuffed animal or other reminder, even a pacifier or bootie on a key ring may be a good reminder. If someone else is driving your child, always call them to assure that your child has arrived safely.
Trunk entrapment had become such a problem that, as of 2001, auto manufacturers were required to equip all new vehicle trunks with a ‘glow in the dark’ trunk release inside the trunk compartment. Show your kids how to use the release in case of an emergency. If your car is older and does not have the ‘glow in the dark’ trunk release, ask your automobile dealership about getting your vehicle retrofitted with a trunk release mechanism. Always check the trunk right away if your child is missing. Lock your car doors and trunk and be sure keys and remote entry devices are out of sight and out of reach of small children. Keep the rear fold down seats closed and locked.
Seatbelt entanglement typically occurs because most seat belts have a retractor that locks if pulled all the way out. Children, even in a car seat, within reaching distance of the unused seat belt, may get entangled in it. The solution is to buckle unused seat belts. Pull the seat belt out all the way to the end without yanking. Then, feed the excess webbing back into the retractor.
Power windows can be accidentally rolled up and cause serious injury. Teach your children not to stand on passenger door arm rests. Never leave the key in the ignition or running when you walk away from your car. If you have power locks, please use them.
And, as for rollaway vehicles, these tips are good to know. And I wish I had known them 20 years ago. Remember to engage your emergency brake every time you park. And verify whether or not your vehicle has a Brake Transmission Safety Interlock (BTSI). You can find this information in your owner’s manual. As of 2010, all vehicles with automatic transmission with a park position must have BTSI. Again, good to know. That would have come in handy back in 1995.
Until next week,
Writer / Comedienne / Artist
Child Safety In And Around Cars – Comedy Defensive Driving