June 8, 2007

Summer is most dangerous time of year for unattended children in and around cars

Washington, D.C. – The Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety (ACTS) warns parents to take special caution in summer with unattended children in and around cars. The coalition says that each year, hundreds of children suffer injuries or death from vehicles backing out of driveways, being trapped in hot vehicles or car trunks, being strangled by power windows, in vehicles inadvertently put in motion by children, and similar types of incidents. ACTS says it is aware of at least 100 of these incidents in Canada and the U.S. this year.

“Active parental and caregiver supervision is the key to saving children’s lives and preventing injuries,” says Phil Haseltine, ACTS president. “It’s important for parents to realize that one out of ten motor vehicle-related child fatalities occur off the public streets, in places like driveways and parking lots. A common thread in these tragedies is that they almost always involve an unattended or unsupervised child.”

ACTS has announced the results of a first-of-its-kind parent survey, involving 900 parents of children ages 12 and younger. The survey found that most parents perceive the risks to unattended children in and around cars as “low”; two-thirds thought it “unlikely” or “very unlikely” that a child in their neighbourhood might die from the heat after being left alone in a car; 46 per cent thought it was “likely” that a child in their neighbourhood might be hit by a car backing out of a driveway; 44 per cent have known someone whose child was hit by a car; and 87 per cent “strongly agreed that parents should do a better job of supervising their children in and around cars.”

ACTS suggest that parents act on the following tips:

  • Walk completely around your car before getting in; know where your children are, and teach them to move away from a vehicle when it is started.
  • Hold the child’s hand around streets, driveways and parking lots, until the child is at least 7-1/2 years old.

  • Set a good example by buckling up, and don’t move the car until children are properly restrained as well.

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