Children throughout Southern California will soon be on new bicycles, tricycles, battery-powered and pedal-riding toys, scooters, and roller skates. The Automobile Club of Southern California offers reminders for drivers and parents to ensure kids enjoy new toys but remain safe in their communities.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 677 cyclists were killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2011 and another 48,000 were injured. The age group 16 and younger accounted for 10 percent of all those killed and 19 percent of all those injured.
“With the joys of the season, it’s crucial we not forget about safety,” said Auto Club spokesman Jeffrey Spring. “We remind drivers to watch out for excited children on new riding toys and encourage parents to go over traffic safety tips before letting their kids enjoy the new gifts.”
NHTSA also estimates, on average, 292 fatalities and 18,000 injuries occur each year as a result of back-over crashes involving vehicles. For parents and drivers, awareness and understanding is the first step toward reducing the risk of back-over incidents:
- Check your blind spots including the blind spot behind your vehicle that you cannot see in the rear or side view mirror.
- Always assume children could be present and carefully check streets, driveways and areas around your vehicle before backing out.
- Always look behind as you back out SLOWLY with windows rolled down to listen for children – and BE PREPARED TO STOP.
- Teach kids not to play in, under or around vehicles.
- Avoid making your driveway a “playground.” If you allow children in this area, make sure it’s only when vehicles are not present and separate the driveway from the roadway with a physical barrier to prevent cars from entering.
- Never leave a vehicle running and lock all cars and trucks, even in driveways and garages, to prevent curious children from putting a vehicle in gear.
- Talk with neighborhood parents about back-over incidents and ask them to talk with their children as well.
As an advocate for the safety of travelers on both two and four wheels, the Auto Club offers the following advice to motorists and bicyclists:
- Share the road. Bicyclists have same rights and responsibilities as motorists including the right to ride in the traffic lane.
- Slow down and allow at least 3 feet of clearance when passing a bicyclist.
- Check mirrors and blind spots before turning, changing lanes or opening car doors.
- Never honk your horn at a bicyclist. They could startle and swerve off the road or into traffic.
- Be especially cautious around children on bikes. They are often unsteady and unpredictable.
- Stay alert and avoid all distractions while driving.
- Be the proper fit on the bike. Rider should be able to sit on seat and balance the bike with both feet just touching the ground. Bike should not lean to one side. Adjust seat to accomplish this.
- Ride on the roadway or shared pathways, rather than sidewalks.
- Follow same rules of the road as other roadway users.
- Signal all turns.
- Wear a bicycle helmet every time and on every ride.
- Be visible by wearing bright color during the day and reflective gear in low light.
- Have basic safety equipment including working brakes, front light (white) and rear light (red), reflective devices, warning bell, safety flag, chain guard and handgrips.