In and Around Vehicle Safety
Erin Petersen, Coordinator
Family Safety Programs, Minnesota Safety Council
Children ages 1-2 enjoy practicing their walking, running and climbing skills and delight in discovering new things. A safe environment for exploring is vital. For many kids this age, a vehicle looks like a fun place to play; however there are a number of hazards in and around vehicles that parents should be careful not to overlook.
Children who are close to the front or back of a vehicle can be injured or killed because a driver can’t see them or is distracted. These incidents typically take place when a vehicle is moving in or out of a driveway or parking space. According to the National Safety Council, a driveway is one of the most dangerous spots in the neighborhood; thousands of children are injured and many are killed there every year.
A quick walk around your vehicle before you get in and start the engine could save a child's (or a pet’s) life. Also, parents should make sure there are no toys or other items under or behind your vehicle that could attract a child. Be especially alert during hectic times, schedule changes, family gatherings and holidays.
Children often will want to run toward a vehicle to say goodbye. Before moving a vehicle, be sure to designate a safe spot for young child to wait with another adult. Say your goodbyes and hellos inside the house, if possible. When walking near moving vehicles and in driveways, parking lots or on sidewalks, firmly hold the hand of your young child.
Other vehicle-related risks to children that parents need to be aware of include power-window strangulation and trunk entrapment. To a young child, the trunk of a vehicle may seem like the perfect place to hide; however they do not understand the dangers of getting trapped in a trunk. Most cars have a control or button located near the driver's seat that pops the trunk open, while other cars also have fold-down seats that enable children to climb into the trunk from the back seat. Parents should teach children not to play in any vehicle and be sure to always lock the vehicle and keep keys out of kids’ reach – especially at home. If your young child is ever missing, check vehicles and trunks immediately.
While traveling in a vehicle with your child, keep the power windows locked from the driver’s seat to help prevent a child passenger from unknowingly activating the power window switch. A child can be injured or even strangled to death by a power window. Make sure all children in your vehicle are properly restrained in the correct child safety seat for their age, weight and height.
Your young child is growing, changing and moving about faster than ever at this age. Help keep them out of harm’s way by actively supervising your child when at play as well as selecting and using safe play areas, away from parked or moving vehicles.