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Preventing Common Car Related Injuries and Deaths

May 1, 2013

by Michelle LaRowe
Editor in Chief

When it comes to car related injuries and deaths in children, many parents simply believe that their family is immune. Yet incident after incident shows children of seemingly responsible parents – including doctors and teachers – becoming victims of such tragic events.

  1. Forgetting a child is in the car. When the typical schedule and routine gets changed or parents are rushed, a momentary-lapse in memory can have deadly results. Placing a briefcase or cellphone in the backseat with the child can help to ensure he’s not forgotten and if he is, with something necessary for the day in the backseat, the adult responsible is likely to return back.
  2. Leaving a child in a hot car. Vehicular heat stroke can happen when a child is left in a car. A child’s body temperature rises 3-5 times faster than an adult’s, and even with the windows cracked the inside of a car can reach 125 degrees Fahrenheit in minutes, according to www.KidsandCars.com.  Prevent vehicle related heat stroke by never leaving your child in the car unattended, even for a minute.
  3. Backing over a child.  Many children are accidently run over as parents back out of their driveways or parking space each year. This is because young children can’t be seen in the BlindZone of the vehicle. Longer and taller vehicles have a larger BlindZone. To get a feel for your BlindZone, set a 28 inch cone on the ground behind the vehicle and see how far away you need to be before you can see the top of it. The space between the back of the vehicle and the cone is the vehicle’s BlindZone. Always physically check behind your vehicle before backing out to avoid accidental injuries.  
  4. Power window strangulation. According to www.KidsandCars.org, power windows have injured or killed thousands of children. Since 1990, 50 children have lost their lives to power window related incidents, and many more have suffered amputations and brain injuries, according to the website. Never leave your child alone in the car. Accidently pressing on the window switch while leaning out the window could have tragic results.
  5. Improper use of car seats. It is estimated that 80 to 90% or more of car seats are misused or installed incorrectly. Visit www.safekids.org to find a certified passenger safety technician who can inspect your seat’s installation. Reading the vehicle and seat owner’s manual and watching installation and usage videos put out by the car seat manufacturer can help to ensure that you’re using the right type of seat for your child and your vehicle. 

While accidental car related injuries and deaths can and do occur, the good news is that most are preventable. By using the right seat the right way, never leaving your child unattended in the car and taking added safety precautions, you can reduce the risk of a preventable car related injuries and deaths.


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Mike R says:

It is unfortunate that such injuries and deaths do occur but, like you said, the good news is that most are preventable. I would like to add another common issue which is distracted driving. By distracted driving, I am not referring to paying attention to only cell phones but children as well.

According to CAA (Canadian Automobile Association), children are four times more distracting than adults as passengers and infants are eight times more distracting than adults as passengers. It is very important to identify this as a problem because children often need attention and it is very distracting while driving. Due to the (unfortunate) large increase of cell phone use while driving, there has been a lot of focus on using technology in our vehicles, which is great, but it’s important to remain aware of other major distractions. If there is a child in the vehicle with you, it’s important to make sure that the child and child seat are secure before driving away and avoid attending to the child while driving. If it is necessary to attend to a child, which is very common, pull over and do all that you need to do before driving away again.

If we all use our better judgment and avoid these mistakes, most car related injuries and deaths can be prevented. Thank you for this post. I hope it helps prevent at least a few of these types of accidents.