Friday, December 30, 2005



This is from a newsletter sent today by an old associate, Janette Fennell of Kids and Cars, an advocacy organization she founded after she and her husband were imprisoned in the trunk of their car in a widely publicized incident years ago. She has lobbied tirelessly and successfully about vehicle safety issues that seem to fall through the cracks. For the past couple of years she has tracked deaths of children in non-collision vehicle incidents, particularly drive-over incidents in driveways. Here, then, is her basic list of safety tips to help protect kids around cars. These are worth knowing and sharing with friends and family members.

1. Walk around and behind a vehicle prior to moving it.

2. Know where your kids are. Make children move away from your vehicle to a place where they are in full view before moving the car and know that another adult is properly supervising children before moving your vehicle.

3. Teach your children to never stand behind vehicles, even if the car is parked. And teach children that “parked” vehicles might move. Let them know that they can see the vehicle; but the driver might not be able to see them.

4. Teach your children to never play in, around or behind a vehicle; enforce this rule by keeping toys and sport equipment out of the garage and driveway.

5. Consider installing cross view mirrors, audible collision detectors, rear view video camera and/or some type of back up detection device.

6. Measure the size of your blind zone (area) behind the vehicle(s) you drive. A 5-foot-1-inch driver in a pickup truck can have a rear blind zone of approximately 8 feet wide by 50 feet long. A driver’s blind zone in a large SUV is up to 40 feet long and 7 feet wide - the approximate size of a kindergarten class.

7. Be aware that steep inclines and large SUVs, vans and trucks add to the difficulty of seeing behind a vehicle.

8. Hold children’s hands when leaving the vehicle.

9. Homeowners should trim landscaping around the driveway to ensure they can see the sidewalk, street and pedestrians clearly when backing out of their driveway. Pedestrians also need to be able to see a vehicle pulling out of the driveway.

10. Never leave children alone in or around cars; not even for a minute.

11. Keep vehicles locked at all times; even in the garage or driveway and always set your parking brake.

12. Keys and/or remote openers should never be left within reach of children.

13. Make sure all child passengers have left the car after it is parked.

14. Be especially careful about keeping children safe in and around cars during busy times, schedule changes and periods of crisis or holidays.

15. Teach children that riding in a car is no safer than a carnival ride - sticking their hands, heads or any body part outside of the window is dangerous.