(Coppell, TX) – Texas kids and teens will soon be riding through neighborhood streets on new bicycles, riding toys, scooters, and roller skates. So, AAA Texas offers reminders for drivers and parents to keep them safe while enjoying new holiday gifts in their communities.
Thousands of children are seriously injured or killed every year because a driver backing up was not able to see them behind their vehicle. According to KidsAndCars.org, a nonprofit child safety organization, an average of 232 fatalities and 13,000 injuries occur every year due to backovers. The website says in the U.S. at least fifty children are backed over by vehicles EVERY week. More than 60% of backing up incidents involved a larger size vehicle like a truck, van or SUV. Tragically, in more than 70% of these incidents, a parent or close relative is behind the wheel.
“With the joys of the season, it’s crucial we not forget about safety,” said AAA Texas/New Mexico Representative Doug Shupe. “We remind drivers to watch out for excited children on new riding toys and encourage parents to go over traffic safety tips before letting their kids enjoy the new gifts.”
To prevent tragedies and injuries, AAA Texas offers the following tips:
- Check your blind spots including the blind spot behind your vehicle that you cannot see in the rear or side view mirror.
- Always assume children could be present and carefully check streets, driveways and areas around your vehicle before backing out.
- Always look behind as you back out SLOWLY with windows rolled down to listen for children – and BE PREPARED TO STOP.
- Don’t rely only on rearview cameras 100%. Research by AAA’s Automotive Research Center in Southern California found both factory-installed and aftermarket rearview cameras increase visibility in the blind zone by an average of 46 percent. However, a single camera lens mounted near the license plate doesn’t see all. Pavement that slopes up sharply, as well as snow and dirt on a camera lens can impact visibility. There’s no substitute for walking around your car, looking in mirrors and over your shoulder before putting your vehicle in reverse.
- Slow down on neighborhood streets. Obey all posted speed limits.
- Watch for bicyclists and toy riders. Look for riders on streets, medians and curbs. Excited children and teens may not pay attention to traffic and cross streets mid-block or between parked cars.
- Teach kids not to play in, under or around vehicles.
- Avoid making your driveway a “playground.” If you allow children in this area, make sure it’s only when vehicles are not present and separate the driveway from the roadway with a physical barrier to prevent cars from entering.
- Never leave a vehicle running and lock all cars and trucks, even in driveways and garages, to prevent curious children from putting a vehicle in gear.
- Talk with neighborhood parents about back-over incidents and ask them to talk with their children as well.
- Review safety precautions with children. Include traffic safety rules in the review such as stay on the sidewalk, cross the street at crosswalks, avoid walking in front of, behind or between parked cars and stop at driveways to make sure no vehicles are coming in and out.
As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 55 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.