Tag Archives: driving safety

Driveway Disasters (Article)

The combination of driveways and your children can be a deadly one. Accidents can happen in the blink of an eye while a parent is performing a mundane task like backing their car out of the driveway; disaster can sadly be just feet away. We all know how much kids love playing outside in the driveway. This puts them squarely in a dangerous zone where they can be injured by a moving car. It’s an alarmingly easy mistake to make that happens frequently. So many families have been devastated when their children are injured or killed by the family car.


In the U.S., fifty children are backed over every week. Of these fifty, two are fatally injured, and most victims are between only twelve and twenty three months old; they are just little innocent toddlers who have no awareness of the danger a moving car poses. They just innocently toddle out into the driveway following their parents, right in the way of the moving vehicle. Most accidents occur when drivers cannot see children in their car’s blind spot, the space behind the car that is not visible from the driver’s seat. Since trucks, vans, and SUVS have the largest blind spots, the majority of accidents are attributed to these vehicles. Fortunately, with more awareness, most of these accidents are preventable.


Here are a few easy tips to ensure that your children are kept safe in your driveway.


  • Always walk all the way around your car before backing out of the driveway. These few seconds could save your child’s life.
  • When young children get in or out of the car, hold their hands and guide them to a safe area where the driver can easily see them.
  • When you’re behind the wheel, remember to back up slowly and always pay attention to your mirrors.
  • Consider purchasing a car that is equipped with a back-up camera and alarm, especially when your children are very young.


Hopefully, all these measures will reduce the number of children who are injured where they should be the safest…their own homes. The prevention of such accidents is possible and in our hands. This is a problem that we can fix!


Your comments are welcome at my blog, www.docsmo.com. Until next time.


Smo Notes:

1.http://www.kidsandcars.org/userfiles/dangers/backovers-fact-sheet.pdf

Written collaboratively by Keri Register and Paul Smolen M.D.

From the Desk of DocSmo- Teen Driving Safety

This week is National Teen Driver Safety Week (October 16th-22nd), an attempt to improve our awareness of the dangers young drivers face as well as giving parents ideas on how to reduce their young drivers’ chances of being injured in a car.  It is very tragic that on average 8 children a day die in preventable automobile accidents.  These are young, healthy, energetic, bright adolescents who die before their adult lives even begin.

During my pediatric career, I have witnessed improvement in both car safety and in the teaching of driving skills to teens.  I am a big fan of the graduated driver’s license.  My children benefited from the slow introduction of driving skills.   I also think  that automotive engineers have done a wonderful job over the past 30 years of improving the safety of cars.  I have seen teens walk away from crashes that would have surely killed a generation ago, protected by airbags, safety cages, restraint systems, and anti-roll technology.   My first car didn’t have a seat belt!

The highlight of National Teen Driver Safety Week campaign is to get parents more involved in teaching safe driving to their children.  Here are some suggestions for improving your teen’s driving skills:

-Drive with your teen as much as possible, the more the better.  Practice makes perfect.

-Be very clear about your expectations for your teen’s driving.  Lay out the rules and write them down. Make a formal agreement and get everyone to sign it.  Make sure your agreement addresses your teen’s car privileges as well as financial contributions to driving, cell phone use while driving, calling home when away from home, driving after dark, radio use while driving, driving non family members, and the consequences of driving infractions or breaking house rules.

– Share your rules with other parents.  Having similar rules for your child’s friends will make them easier for everyone to enforce.

-Lead by example.  Set a good example for your children by being a safe driver yourself.  Never drink and drive.  Be defensive in your driving.  Wear your seat belt and make sure your passengers do as well.  Don’t drive when you are too tired.

I am now going to share with you something that I invented that I think helped when my children were learning to drive.  I realized that the more I reminded (nagged)  my children to follow the rules the more they ignored me.  My reminders, instead of reinforcing the messages of safe driving, seemed only to emotionally agitate my children.  I therefore decided to communicate with them using “hand signals” to remind them of my safe driving tips.  Here are Dr Smolen’s hand signals for safe driving:

– “1 finger then  10”.   Meaning- stay 1 car length back for every 10 miles per hour.  Example- 3 car lengths back at 30 mph.

– “Repeated downward hand motion”.  Meaning- Don’t drive too fast.  Stay BELOW the speed limit.

– “The double head turn with fingers pointing both ways.”  Meaning-  Look twice before you pull out into oncoming traffic.

-“Shake head no with phone to ear”- Meaning- No talking, texting, surfing or anything else with the phone while driving.

– “2 fingers pointing from eyes”- Meaning-  Keep your eyes on the road!

Feel free not only to use my hand signal method of communication with your young driver, but also to add your own variations.  It was actually fun to talk to my children with just hand signals and have them know exactly what I was talking about.  I am posting some web resources for you to check out if you want to read more on this subject.  You can find a sample driving agreement to use as a starting point on the CDC website.  Good luck and happy driving.

 
Slow Down:

 
Pay Attention:

 
No Cell:

 
Look Two Ways:

 
1 per 10:

References:

CDC – Teen Driving – Parents Are the Key Homepage

Get Behind National Teen Driver Safety Week (NTDSW)

CDC – Teen Driving – Graduated Driver Licensing – Parents Are the Key