At Oncor, we have a long history of safe driving practices. In 2012, I spent six weeks training more than 700 employees on safe driving skills. I have been building a safety PowerPoint presentation for further employee training, and I was amazed at the publicly available data I found on children being run over and killed when a car backs up. I thought if I could share this information and my safety tips, everyone could save some lives.
According to Consumer Reports**, 50 children are backed over each week in this country. Of those, two die and 48 are hospitalized with injuries. WOW – that is 104 kids a year that are killed by being backed over! They also said that 70 percent of the time a family member or relative is responsible. I cannot imagine how someone would live with the knowledge that they ran over a child – let alone their own.
Would you give up 30 seconds to make sure this is prevented? That is all it takes each time you walk around your entire vehicle before getting in and driving. This simple little action can save a life.
We all are very busy these days with our family and work requirements, so it is easy to get distracted and not see everything that might become a hazard when backing up. Of course, this same tip applies when driving forward. Staying focused on the task of driving and knowing what is around you is always the key to being safe.
Today’s vehicles make this task extra difficult since the blind spots in the rear have been increasing every year. Did you know that your blind spot can be as long as 50’ behind your vehicle? That is the blind spot on a Chevy Avalanche if the driver is shorter than 5’8”, according to Consumer Reports**. This means that a 28” cone closer than 50’ to the car is not visible from inside the vehicle. Consumer Reports has a list of vehicles so you can check your blind spot. There is a video that explains this.
Here are the seven steps for walking the safety circle around your vehicle:
- Walk all the way around. Things can hide in the tire wells that cannot be seen from the front or back of the vehicle.
- Look at your tires. Make sure they are inflated properly and no objects are in the way that could damage them.
- Look under your car. Make sure there are no leaks that could cause a problem further down the road. Animals can also hide underneath the car.
- Look on top of your car or in the back of the truck. You do not want to drive down the road with your coffee cup on top of your car or with something in the back of your truck that you did not intend to take with you.
- Look for fixed objects near your car that you may not be able to see when you get inside. Gas meters, mailboxes, etc can all hide once you are in the car, but it helps if you know they are there before you get in.
- Look for movable objects nearby. The child playing ball in the yard next door can suddenly be behind you as you back out. Keep an eye on them.
- Plan your path. While you are walking around your car, plan where you will go to be sure your route is safe. Note the locations of parked cars along the street.
This may sound like a lot of steps, but once you start doing it every time, you will be sure to leave safely. It also gets your focus back on driving before you leave.
Try walking the safety circle around your car every time. It could save a child’s life – maybe even your own child!