There were a couple of local news stories this week that applies more to home safety than to occupational safety, but they both hit home for me. Both news stories revolve around children and vehicles. One involved a toddler being backed over while in the driveway. The other involved a child who had exited a school bus and was later struck by a car near his home.
My deepest sympathy and prayers to go all those involved in these two incidents.
As a father/safety guy, one of my focuses (especially in the summer) is to look for the kids when I am driving. With more daylight, my kids are usually playing somewhere in the yard when I get home. From the moment I first reach the drive, I start looking to where they are and what they are doing. I have to start judging what they may do. This is much harder than it sounds. My son, age 3, has become obsessed with cars, trucks, tractors, and pretty much any thing that moves. He loves to run to the car or any other moving object when he knows the vehicle. That is to say he loves my grandmother on her golf cart, my wife in her car, me in my car, or my dad on the tractor. Its an interesting challenge to keep him from running to what he enjoys and is utterly fascinated with. I have learned to pull into the drive way, stop, and let him come to me. I will get out and bring him into the car with me to finish the drive into the where I normally park. If his is with me, I know he is not around me in a blind spot.
My daughter, who is older, has learned some of the basic safety tips for traffic such as: stop, look, and listen, stay in a safe area when people are pulling into the driveway, and to stay visible to those who are driving. None-the-less, I still have to watch. Even someone who is trained in the right safety processes can make mistakes. It is part of my responsibility to watch for her just as she is watching for me. Safety at home and at work is a partnership.
My wife and I also have a partnership in safety. We know to help communicate where the kids are when either of us are driving. When I pull in, if I don’t see the kids, she points me to where they are and will signal me if I should wait or proceed. I do the same if I am home with the kids and she is leaving or arriving. One of my key steps is to keep the kids in the porch or play area until my wife as come to a full stop, car in part, and engine off. I am sure my kids feel the process us obsessive, but it is necessary to assure their safety.
When it comes to vehicle safety and kids, it is so important to not create a fear of the vehicles but a significant respect of the hazard. Each time there is a moving vehicle, we hold hands and talk him through the right way to wait and watch for traffic. It is important that kids understand to stay clear, stay in place, watch, listen, and stay visible. Anytime there is an incident involving a kids and a vehicle, lives are changed forever.
For more information, posters, and safety tips about keeping kids safe around vehicles (LINK)
Also, it is good to note that the NHTSA will require cars to come standard equipped with backup cameras in 2018 (LINK).