Make Sure to Spot Your Tot: Preventing Driveway Accidents

Parents have been backing up to me with lots of questions about driveway safety and their children. Well, let me drive through a few thoughts on this topic.

More than 30% of deaths involving a motor vehicle and a child are caused by a vehicle backing over a child who is playing in, or simply being in, the driveway. Some of the worst accidents occur when children fall out an open door, or when a child is left in the car with the keys in the ignition and the motor running and no adult is present.  

Most driveway accidents occur on weekdays in the early morning and in the late afternoon when parents go to and from work. Broken bones, and injuries to the head and chest are the most common injuries reported.

Here are a few suggestions for preventing driveway accidents:

1.     Try not to use a driveway as a playground.  If it is going to be a play area, then block it off to prevent cars from pulling-in. 

2.     Set a rule that children are never to play in a driveway without adult supervision.

3.     Teach children never to play in, under, or around vehicles.

4.     Always check completely around a vehicle before backing out, or as I like to say “You need to spot the tot before you start the car.” 

5.     Do a head count of your children and pets and know where they are before you start the ignition.

6.     If you own a light truck or SUV, consider installing extended mirrors to improve the view behind your vehicle.  You can also put in a backup warning device that will sound if objects are in your path.

7.     Never leave the keys in the ignition or leave your car running with children in or nearby your vehicle.

8.     Don’t forget to share this information with neighborhood parents as well so their driveways are just as safe as yours.

Hopefully, tips like this will park and lock away any concerns you have when it comes to keeping your children safe around the car or truck in your driveway. 

Lewis First, M.D., is chief of Pediatrics at Vermont Children's Hospital at Fletcher Allen Health Care and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Vermont College of Medicine. You can also catch "First with Kids" weekly on WOKO 98.9FM and on WCAX-TV Channel 3. Visit the First with Kids video archives at http://www.FletcherAllen.org/firstwithkids