Children are one of the deepest roots of my driving anxiety. From school crossings, to driveways and quiet family-homed streets, I’m the person who slows the car down to near-stop speeds and covers the brakes when I drive through any area I think children may be present.
You only need to look at the frequency these types of events appear in the newspaper to discover just how common this kind of tragedy is. It’s an unfortunate mistake. In a split second, two people in the wrong place, at the wrong time, can cause a catastrophe that’ll change the lives of so many people.
All it takes is for a child to be sitting out of sight behind a car playing on the driveway. Or another to suddenly chase their ball onto the usually quiet road.
Thankfully, there are a few steps you can take to ensure your kids are kept safe when there’s a car around.
Talk the talk and walk the walk
Kids live by example, and your example is one of the most influential on their life. So talk to them about road safety and follow your own rules.
Stop, look, listen and think. Look both ways before crossing the road. Always choose the pedestrian crossing. Hold an adults hand. If you do these, they’ll follow.
When in doubt, let Elmo and the RACV do the talking for you with this Elmo Stays Safe campaign:
Keep your kids in sight
Most new cars these days come with a reversing camera, or at least the option of one, and a suite of rear-alert technology, so the risk of not noticing a child sitting behind your car is not as high as it used to be. In saying that, I’ve driven plenty of cars that sometimes beep at you for the slightest of reasons, so I don’t always heed the warnings. It can also go the other way, don’t always trust the sensors to tell you if a kid is suddenly in your path.
It’s important to make sure you know where the kids are. Whether this is because they’re in a spot in front of the vehicle where you can see them, or you’ve said your goodbyes inside the house before leaving.
Leaving your window wound down when reversing out of a driveway or car park can also be beneficial, so you can use sound cues to hear if anyone is nearby or if you need to stop suddenly.
Several sources also suggest keeping your driveway and yard separate and turning your driveway into an ‘off-limits’ zone for playing or even saying goodbye.
Remain in control
While you should always have a visual on your kids, it’s important you keep the control in your hands. That’s not to say put them on a restraint, but keeping them in a pram or even just maintaining physical contact by holding hands can be the difference between them staying by your side or running out onto the road.
Yes, that also means any time you’re outside your car, your kids should be too. An average of five emergency calls to children left in cars is made each day during the hotter months. Don’t become a statistics.