National Children’s Day and Summer Driving

Date May 18, 2011

Summer is almost here and school is almost out! One of the most favorite times of the year for children is summer break. In recognition of National Children’s Day on June 12, 2011, the California Department of Motor Vehicles would like to offer summer driving safety tips, with California’s youngest residents in mind.

Whether your family is planning a road trip, or simply taking advantage of the warmer weather to play outside this summer, drivers should take heed of a few simple precautions to keep both passengers and pedestrians out of harm’s way. Consider the following vehicle occupant and pedestrian safety tips to ensure kids of all ages are safe all season long:

Follow the 25 MPH Neighborhood Speed Limit

Drivers should be aware of their speed and surroundings when driving through neighborhoods and adhere to the 25 mph speed limit. Children can suddenly run into the street to chase a ball or to catch up with a friend; if drivers are going too fast to make a quick stop, it could lead to an unwanted injury. It is also important to come to a complete stop when at a red light or stop sign.  According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, there are approximately 5,000 to 6,000 pedestrian deaths each year, with children making up a large portion of the victims involved.

Practice Proper Seat Belt Safety

Taking a summer trip? Whether you are traveling out of state or just across town, it is important to follow the recommended guidelines for seatbelt safety.  Infants, toddlers, children under the age of six, and children less than 60 pounds should be properly secured in certified child-safety seats in the backseat of a vehicle. Rear-facing child passenger restraint systems can only be used in the backseat even if the child is of age and meet the weight requirement.Children aged four to seven should be secured in a certified booster seat. Children older than seven can use a standard seatbelt; however they should ride in the back seat until they are 13. Drivers, passengers and children have a 50 percent better chance of surviving a collision when using their seatbelt, as reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Do Not Leave Children Unattended in Vehicles

Children are curious and love to play in their parents’ car, but this can run them the risk of getting themselves locked inside if they are left unattended.  Research from “Heat Stress from Enclosed Vehicles : Moderate Ambient Temperatures Cause Significant Temperature Rise in Enclose Vehicles,” conducted by San Francisco State University indicates there have been a reported 498 child deaths in the United States since 1998, as a result of vehicular hyperthermia. The hot summer sun is even hotter in a sealed vehicle; internal vehicle temperatures can reach up to 172 degrees Fahrenheit, even when outside temperatures are only 80 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Never leave your child unattended in a car for any length of time, it is not only illegal, but can quickly become life threatening.

Always Wear a Helmet When Riding a Bicycle

Riding a bicycle is a fun and perfect form of exercise for children, especially during the summer months. As with any form of recreation, it is important that children practice proper safety techniques when riding a bicycle.  According to the Children’s Safety Network, children and young people are the most affected age group of bicycle injuries and deaths and 63 percent of bicycle fatalities are the result of head injuries.  Installing lights and reflectors on the bicycle and teaching the importance of safe bicycle riding, including the use of a helmet, can significantly reduce these accidents. After all, it is required by California state law that all children under 18 wear a helmet while riding a bicycle.

Parents are not only responsible for adhering to vehicle safety rules, but should also ensure their children are aware and following these helpful tips as well. With National Children’s Day upon us, remember to keep these tips in mind while driving for a safe and enjoyable summer. For more information on driver and pedestrian safety, please visit DMV.ca.gov.

 

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