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Safety advocates warn about neighborhood auto accidents with kids

Children and teens in Texas and across the nation are always excited for the holidays, largely because they are off from school and will receive a variety of presents. Some gifts will invite outdoor activity. That includes bicycles, riding toys, scooters, small motorized vehicles and skateboards. This is fueling concern that kids will be vulnerable to injuries and death in auto accidents. Given the dangers young people face, AAA Texas is embarking on a campaign to remind drivers, parents and kids to think about safety.

Study shows frequency of children being run over when vehicles are in reverse

Kids and Cars is a nonprofit that focuses on child safety. According to its research, an average of 50 kids per week are involved in an auto accident when a vehicle is backing up. At least 60% happen in parking lots and driveways with large vehicles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that around 7,400 injuries and almost 200 deaths occur in these crashes. The most at risk ages are toddlers between the ages of one and two. Any child five and under is believed to be at highest risk, but it can happen to anyone.

A growing number of drivers are taking part in potentially dangerous activities behind the wheel. That includes behaving recklessly, distracted driving, drunk driving, drugged driving and driving drowsy. These issues are common on the roads and place everyone in jeopardy with bicyclists and pedestrians being especially exposed. Few are expecting to be involved in an accident in residential areas when they are driving at a relatively slow pace. However, as this research suggests, it is a major challenge that needs to be understood. This is particularly true with kids who are playing outside.

Drivers are advised to be cautious, but lapses and accidents are common

To improve safety and prevent bicycle and pedestrian accidents involving kids, AAA advises drivers to take certain steps including checking for blind spots, being cognizant of the chance children are around, backing out slowly, not relying on technology as the final determinative factor of when to back up and simply being attentive. Unfortunately, this may not be enough to avoid hitting a child. Even vigilant drivers and kids can be unexpectedly involved in a crash. It is important to be prepared for the aftermath. The entire incident must be investigated to assess what happened and why. Medical costs, long-term care and other problems will likely come to the forefront. If there is a fatality, the family left behind will want answers. For guidance, it is imperative to have professional assistance from the start to decide on an appropriate strategy.