Try as they might, parents cannot protect their children from every single risk kids face during their lives. The best we as adults can do is to watch them closely as they grow up and teach them to be cautious and aware of the dangers around them. One of the more common dangers that youngsters face on a regular basis involves automobiles and commercial trucking-related collisions, especially in urban areas and near schools.
As a pedestrian, being hit by a car or truck can result in serious injuries, not to mention possible death. Adults are at risk when walking in or around vehicular traffic, and this goes double for children. Injuries sustained by children and adults include common bumps and bruises, broken bones and compound fractures, as well as closed-head injuries and spinal damage.
Head, neck and back injuries can lead to weeks or months of medical treatment and subsequent physical therapy, which can be costly for anyone, much less a family struggling to make ends meet during this poor economy. But being injured by a moving car, truck or motorcycle is not the only way that a child may sustain bodily harm; just being near a vehicle can present certain dangers that might cause injury.
It’s well understood that one of the more common causes of childhood injuries here in Baltimore, as well as Gaithersburg, Annapolis and the District, is that of motor vehicle wrecks. But there are other vehicle-related dangers that might be just as serious for a youngster; the following is just a selection of the potential safety hazards children can face from cars and trucks:
Hazard in the Driveway
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), so-called “backover accidents” happen fairly frequently and can many times result in fatalities. Smaller children are at greater risk, as they are usually too short to be seen by the driver. Modern cars with rear-view video cameras and back-up sensors can certainly help to reduce the number of injuries every year, but the motorists must exercise additional caution when placing a car into reverse. Nothing quite takes the place of physically getting out and looking behind and under the vehicle before backing out of one’s driveway.
Power Window Dangers
More than a few children have been severely injured or killed as a result of having their head, neck or arm caught by a closing power window. This was a much less common problem in the days before electric windows became standard equipment in cars. Although some automakers include sensing software that can detect when a window has hit and obstruction when closing, the danger still exists. One step towards keeping kids safer is to make certain that the driver’s power window lockout or defeat switch is activated so that only the driver can raise or lower the passenger windows.
Uncontrolled Vehicle Roll-away
Children being what they are, namely inquisitive, should never be left to their own devices in a running or parked car, especially if the driver leaves the key in the ignition. It is not unheard of that a youngster — imitating his or her parent — has moved the transmission shift lever from park to neutral, drive or reverse. If the engine is running, this can be a devastating occurrence and possibly a deadly one. Even if the engine is switched off, the vehicle could end up rolling into a nearby object at slow speed; however, because traffic is never far away, a potentially injury-causing collision is always a possibility. Transmission interlocks go a long way toward preventing the kind of tragedy alluded to above; but the best way of preventing such accidents is to take the car keys with you when leaving a vehicle when kids are about.
Hyperthermia, that is, injuries caused by an excessively hot environment — such as a closed vehicle sitting in the summer sun — can be deadly to young children. According to the NHTSA, hyperthermia is the number one cause of non-crash automobile fatalities among kids below the age of 14. Whatever your reason for leaving a child in the car, if only for a couple minutes, think twice about it; youngsters should never be left alone in a vehicle especially during the heat of the summer.