How Parents Can Keep Children Safe Around Cars

Driveways, parking lots and vehicles all pose dangers to kids

Girl and boy riding push scooters next to car on road
Girl and boy riding push scooters next to car on road. Getty Images/altrendo images/Altrendo

It's imperative that parents use safety measures to keep their kids safe near cars, particularly in driveways or parking lots. After all, many outdoor activities result in children playing in the driveway. These include chalk drawings, riding tricycles or playing with water hoses. But those activities can easily turn from fun to tragedy if motorists unintentionally back over small kids at play.

Driveway-Related Fatalities

According to Kids and Cars, a nonprofit dedicated to educating the public about motor vehicle safety, the number of injuries and deaths from back overs is on the rise.

And driveways aren't the only place where kids get backed over. Parking lots are another hazard area, especially around areas where kids may be standing around or not closely supervised, like at snow cone stands or parks.

Another place where tragic accidents can occur is at daycare centers, schools or places where recreational activities for kids are held. Kids get out of cars and excitedly run to the building ahead of their parents, and their small size makes it hard for motorists to see them.

Vehicle Blind Spots

Many vehicles have so-called "blind spots" where drivers cannot see what is directly behind them. Some high-end vehicles feature sensors with alarms that go off when the car is close to backing into something (including a child), although most cars do not have the device and there is no federal standard for automotive visibility.

Kids and Cars estimates that at least two children each week are backed over and killed.

Drivers get into a routine and may assume there is nothing behind them, especially while in their own driveway. However, the best advice is to always pay extra attention to your surroundings. When backing up, look out for small kids who may make a dash down a sidewalk or dart through parked cars.

Keeping Kids Safe Around Cars

By following these tips, parents can prevent automobile-related child fatalities from occurring.

  • Hold your child's hand firmly (even under protest) while walking from a car into a building.

  • Never let your child walk or run ahead of you to any place where cars are.

  • Know where your kids are before moving your vehicle. Make sure all children move safely away from your vehicle and are in full view before moving the car. Have another adult supervise them to avoid the last-second dash to pick up a toy or ball.

  • Let kids know they are never to walk into the street for any reason whatsoever. 

  • Explain to kids how cars that are parked can suddenly move or back up and that the driver may not see them.

  • Teach kids that they are to never play in, around or behind a car.

  • Make your driveway a toy-free zone. Never allow any toys, bikes, chalks or any type of equipment to remain on the driveway.

  • Never leave your child alone in the car or around the car, even for a quick second.

  • If you experience a small child darting through cars or into your path, stop and explain that if you hadn't been watching, the child would have been hurt. Use the moment to increase the likelihood that the child will be more careful in the future and the adult supervising the child will be more attentive.

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