This week’s guest blogger Kate Pickle was a preschool teacher in a past life (ie before kids). Here, she discovered a passion for understanding small humans, plus a great outlet for her creative streak. Nowadays, she is a stay-at-home Mum with lots of chickens and a start-stop veggie garden. Kate blogs at picklebums.com.
I hear the sound from inside the house and come running out to see what has happened. As my husband pulls the car forward the crumpled bike is revealed from under the back bumper.
There’s no damage to the car and it’s just an old bike, but I know what we are both thinking…
“I didn’t see it at all,” he says ashen faced, “…imagine if that was one of the kids.”
It’s one of those stories I hear on the news every now and then. A child has been killed, run over in the driveway by their family car. A tragedy that will affect that family forever. And my heart sinks, because that could easily be our family. It could easily have been a child instead of a bike.
We both drive large cars, we have four kids, we have to drive large cars to fit them all in. Large cars are often high off the ground and the visibility of a small object that is close to you is minimal at best. Often, like with the bike – even when using mirrors and double checking – you can’t see anything at all.
So how do we stop a tragedy happening to our family? How can we make sure our driveway is safe?
Choose a car with better rear visibility
When we looked at updating my husband’s 4WD, high on the list of priorities was a car that had a reversing camera. The bike incident had really rattled him and having a car that had better rear visibility was important.
You can find more information about choosing a car with better rear visibility here.
While the rear camera helps, it is not fool proof. Children move fast and sometimes you may not see a child in your rear camera until it is too late. So a rear camera is just one thing you can do to help keep your kids safe.
Educate your children about driveway safety
We have eight year old twins, a five year old and a two year old. All of them know that it is not safe to be out on our driveway when cars are moving.
We have taught them that the safe place to be is either in the car, or up on our high front veranda. If they are standing on the veranda the car driver can see them all clearly and know they are safe, and they are to stay there until the driver tells them it is okay to move.
We also teach our kids that it is not safe to play around cars. Playing between or behind parked cars is never okay as you just don’t know when a car might move without knowing you are there.
Supervise your kids
Our older kids are very aware of the rules and the danger, but even at 8 years of age, kids can be unpredictable, they can get mixed up, or forget, and the two year old only has a passing interest in any ‘rules’ or ‘dangers’. So no matter how well educated our kids are, there is no substitute for supervision.
Always supervise your children whenever a car is to be moved: hold their hands or hold them close to keep them safe. If there is not another adult to supervise them standing on the veranda, then the best place for them to be is safely restrained in the car.
Knowing the dangers associated with children in the driveway and knowing how quickly and easily an accident can occur is a good way to prevent it. Being vigilant, taking the extra time to make sure everyone is safe and double checking every time we move the car are things we always do to keep our kids safe.
Terrible accidents happen, even to good people, with good intentions, but if we are educated about the dangers we can do our best to avoid them.
You can also find more information on driveway safety here.
What rules do you set for your kids to keep them safe around cars?
You can also join the conversation on Twitter. Just use the #NRMAChildSafe hashtag to share your thoughts.