AAA reminds drivers to keep young riders safe this holiday season

Local

El Paso, Texas (KTSM) — With the pandemic keeping many families closer to home this holiday season, more children and teenagers will likely be riding through neighborhoods on new bicycles, riding toys, scooters, roller skates and rollerblades in the days after the holidays.

AAA Texas is reminding drivers and parents to keep young riders safe while they enjoy their new gifts.

Children who are 1 to 2 years old are most commonly the victims of backover incidents, or accidents where a person is hit by a car that’s backing out of a driveway or other space. At those ages, toddlers have just started walking/running and are moving around to test their limits, as well as try new things. Children younger than 5 years old are most at-risk, but children of all ages can be the victim of a backover collision.

To prevent tragedies, AAA Texas offers the following tips:

Drivers:

  • 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.
  • Don’t rely only on rearview cameras 100 percent. Research by AAA’s Automotive Research Center in Southern California found that both factory-installed and aftermarket rearview cameras increase visibility in the blind zone by an average of 46 percent. However, a single-camera lens mounted near the license plate doesn’t see everything. Pavement that slopes up sharply, as well as moisture and dirt on a camera lens can affect visibility. There’s no substitute for walking around your car, looking in mirrors and over your shoulder before putting your vehicle in reverse.
  • Slow down on neighborhood streets. Obey all posted speed limits.
  • Watch for bicyclists and toy riders. Look for riders on streets, medians and curbs. Excited children and teens may not pay attention to traffic and cross streets mid-block or between parked cars.

Parents:

  • Keep a close eye on children whenever someone arrives or leaves your home. Often children follow people who are leaving, and the driver is unaware the child has snuck out.
  • 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 backover incidents and ask them to talk with their children as well.
  • Review safety precautions with children. Include traffic safety rules in the rearview, such as stay on the sidewalk, cross the street at crosswalks, avoid walking in front of, behind or between parked cars and stop at driveways to make sure no vehicles are coming in and out.
  • Never allow young children to walk through parking lots. Young kids should be carried or placed in a stroller or shopping carts. Even holding hands may not prevent a child from darting away.

“Young people on low riding toys and fast-moving bicycles, as well as children playing in neighborhoods, can be missed if drivers are not watchful,” said AAA Texas spokesperson Joshua Zuber. “We remind drivers to be on the lookout for excited children on new riding toys and encourage parents to go over traffic safety lessons before allowing their kids outside to play.”

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