According to www.kidsandcars.org, as of December 2007, 942 children in the U.S. were involved in accidents because they were left unattended in or around a car. Of that total, 231 resulted in fatalities.Tragedies like these can be prevented if parents exercise some extra caution. Here are a few tips to help keep your child safe:• Teach your children that they should never play in the car without adult supervision.• Lock your car and put the keys in a place where your children can’t find them.• Place something you need like your cell phone, handbag, or briefcase on the floor in front of the back seat when you get into the car. This forces you to retrieve the item when you arrive at your destination and you will be reminded of your child, quietly sleeping in the back seat.• Keep rear fold-down seats closed to help prevent children from getting into the trunk from inside the car and open the trunk whenever you reach your destination. A child can easily slip inside an open trunk and hide. Install a trunk release mechanism and teach your older children how to use it.• Keep a large teddy bear in the child’s car seat when it’s not occupied. When the child is placed in the seat, put the teddy bear in the front passenger seat. The teddy bear on the front seat will serve as a reminder that the child is in the car seat.• Don’t ever leave a child in a car since it can quickly heat up, especially on a hot, sunny day. Children can easily become dehydrated and suffer from heat exposure, even if the windows are partially open. No matter how short a time you plan to be out of the car, take your child with you.• Teach older children how to disable the driver’s door locks if they become trapped inside the car.• Take your children out of the car before getting the groceries, dry cleaning, etc., when you get home.• Be sure that child care providers check to make sure that children aren’t left in their car or van.• Call 911 immediately if you see a child alone in a vehicle.
Lately Americans have been besieged by a number of economic worries: rising gas prices, a looming recession, the mortgage industry meltdown, and joblessness. However, according to AAA, there’s another concern that needs to be added to this list, the rising cost of traffic crashes.
Cambridge Systematics Inc., which conducted research on behalf of the Association, reported that crashes cost U.S. motorists $164.2 billion annually, or approximately $1,051 per person. In fact, some of the largest cities, such as New York and Los Angeles, suffer billions of dollars in accident costs each year. The total cost for the New York metropolitan is $18 billion a year, or about $962 per person. In Los Angeles, the cost is over $10 billion a year, or $817 per person.
This isn’t to imply that traffic crashes don’t take an economic toll on smaller communities. Residents of smaller cities actually shouldered a larger per-person burden than their big city counterparts. Crashes in the Little Rock-North Little Rock region in Arkansas cost $2,258 per person. In Pensacola, Florida, the cost was $1,772 a person, and in Columbia, South Carolina, the price tag averaged $1,568 a person.
Based on the data the study revealed, the AAA had some specific recommendations for lawmakers across the country that would help ease the financial burden:
- Make safety more of a priority in transportation planning
- Enact tougher laws for drunken and impaired driving
- Pass primary enforcement seat belt laws, which permit law enforcement officers to stop motorists if their only offense is failing to use their seat belt.
Legislators in 26 states and the District of Columbia have primary enforcement laws. The remaining states have secondary enforcement laws. This type of legislation only allows law enforcement officers to issue tickets for seat belt violations if motorists are stopped for other offenses. New Hampshire has no seat belt law for adults.
The Association noted that in addition to the high monetary cost for traffic crashes; there is also a significant cost in terms of human life. Almost 43,000 people die each year on the nation’s roads, and the AAA believes that this statistic warrants treating traffic crashes as the public health threat they are.