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How to Protect Kids from Driveway Hazards

July 11, 2016 by HealthyFamilies BC

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Driveway safety for kids

It’s that time of year when children may be outside playing more often. While they enjoy this needed time outside, there are some things you can do to keep kids safe, including understanding child safety in your driveway.

Drivers backing vehicles out of driveways are a hazard to your child’s safety; there is the potential for you, a neighbour, a friend or relatives, as drivers, to unintentionally back over your child.

Back-over injuries and deaths can happen anywhere vehicles are parked but often take place in residential driveways at slow speeds. These preventable events result in injury and death for hundreds of children each year across North America and tend to happen because drivers (often the parent or a close relative) couldn’t see the child behind their vehicle.

Children under five years of age are most at risk for back-over injuries in driveways. In particular, toddlers between 12-23 months because they have just begun walking and running, finding their ways into places and things they haven’t before. They can be impulsive, don’t understand risk to their own safety and are too small to be seen when standing behind any vehicle.

Back-over Injuries are Preventable

How can you as a driver and as a parent make your driveway safer and protect children from back-over hazards? Here are a number of things you can do:

  1. Establish your driveway as a ‘no play’ zone. Reserve play and toys for the back yard if you have one. If not, take the toys and kids to your local park.
  2. Walk all the way around your vehicle making sure no children are behind or near the vehicle before you get in.
  3. Before backing up, roll down your windows and make sure the radio is turned all the way down or off. Listen for quiet voices from unexpected places as you back up.
  4. Check all your mirrors and look behind you as you are backing up; if you have one, use your rear-mounted camera but do not rely on this alone. If your vehicle doesn’t have a backup camera system, consider installing one.
  5. Teach your children about vehicle dangers with special emphasis on the back of vehicles and their blindzones. The blindzone is where you can’t see what is behind you even when you turn all the way around, face backwards and use your mirrors when backing-up. The majority of back-overs involve a larger vehicle (truck, van, SUV), though the blindzone of each vehicle is slightly different. It also depends on your personal height.
  6. Teach your children that any parked vehicle might move unexpectedly. Help them understand that even if they can see the car and driver, the driver can’t automatically see them.
  7. Understand Bye-Bye Syndrome™. This is when young children who don’t want to be left behind when they hear the words ‘bye-bye’ try to follow behind the person who is leaving. The departing driver can be totally unaware the child has snuck out and assumes they are still safe inside the home.

All back-over injuries and deaths are preventable and you as a careful, aware driver are the most powerful tool in their prevention!

Author's Bio: Linda Phillips is a Senior Policy Analyst in Injury Prevention at the Ministry of Health who works on fall prevention for frail seniors and vulnerable road user safety. When she’s not preventing injuries she loves to horseback ride.

Recommended resources

Safercar.gov: Back-over
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: Back-overs
Kids and Cars
Kids and Cars: Back-over Factsheet
Kids and Cars: Back-over Collisions in Child Pedestrians from the Canadian Hospitals Injury Reporting and Prevention Program
Government of BC: BC Coroners Service Annual Report
Government of BC: A Review of Road-Related Pedestrian, Cyclist and Boarder Deaths in Children and Youth 2005-2014

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