Safety Archive

After a Crash

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I’m fortunate to have only been in a few small fender-benders, all in parking lots or on streets where it was easy to pull over. I’ve often wondered what people are supposed to do when their crash happens in the middle of a busy roadway. Do you move out of traffic? Do you stay put so the police can see where the cars wound up, and therefore determine fault more easily?

My instinct, especially as a mother and safety advocate, is that I should try to get my car out of traffic, but is that the right choice?

I decided to stop wondering and called up Officer Chris Goodwin with the California Highway Patrol to get his advice.

“Our number-one priority is safety,” Officer Goodwin said. “Documentation is second.” Many accidents start off as minor property damage but turn fatal when other cars strike the vehicle or people stopped in a roadway.

Here are Officer Goodwin’s tips.

  • If you can move your car out of traffic, do it. If you’re on a busy city street, turn onto a side street or into a nearby parking lot. If you’re on a freeway, pull to the shoulder. If you’re near an exit, you can get off the freeway entirely to find a safe place to park. As soon as you do, call 911 to let them know you were in a crash and exited the freeway for safety. This will let police know where to go and will also document that you’re not trying to commit a hit-and-run.
  • If you’re in the middle of a freeway or busy street and can’t move your car, put on your flashers, keep your seatbelt on, and call 911. Do not step out into traffic! Goodwin said it’s not uncommon for people to start exchanging information right in the middle of freeway lanes. Don’t be one of those people!
  • If your car is disabled in the lane closest to the shoulder or sidewalk, exit carefully and stand where it’s safe (i.e., out of traffic lanes), preferably behind a guardrail if you’re on a freeway.
  • While you’re waiting for police to arrive, get out your license, registration, and insurance information. (And before you get in the crash, make sure you have your most current information in the car.) Goodwin said people often don’t have those ready, and it causes delays.
  • Use that camera! Almost everyone has cameras on their cell phones these days. If you do, put it to good use. While the police are taking statements, photograph all of the cars involved on all sides, even if a side doesn’t have damage. Better yet, take video and narrate as you’re doing it. Take photos or video of all the people involved, too. Goodwin said that insurance fraud is rampant, and documenting damage and the people involved will help keep other parties from claiming subsequent damage or claiming that additional people were involved. When you get home, upload the video to your computer, and burn one disk for yourself and one for your insurance company.

As for determining fault, the police can do that even after cars have been moved. They’ll look at statements from witnesses and the parties involved, and will examine crush damage, debris, and skid marks. “That’s what we do for a living,” Goodwin said. “We’ll dig and dig until we figure it out.”

Think Your Big Kids Don’t Need A Booster? Think Again.

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In two weeks my youngest son will turn 8. That means in New York State, where we live, he would be “legal” riding in just the adult seatbelt. But is following the legal minimums in your state really a good idea? You wouldn’t sign your kid out of school on his or her 16th birthday just because the law says you can, right?  And you wouldn’t let your child marry their first cousin at age 14 (with parental consent, of course!) just because you live in Alabama where this is actually legal, would you? Do you see where I’m going with this?

Ditching the booster seat as soon as your state law allows it only means that you can’t be ticketed. It doesn’t mean that it’s recommendable or even safe. Restraint laws for children are the perfect example of laws that really fall short.  When it comes to protecting our “big kids” from the #1 cause of death and injury in their age group, you need more than the law on your side. You need to insist that your kids (and those in your care) continue to use a booster seat until they can pass the 5-Step Test in the vehicle(s) that they ride in.

Adult seatbelts are just not designed to fit kids and uncomfortable kids are at much greater risk of serious injury because they either don’t buckle up at all or they misuse the seatbelt in ways that reduce effectiveness and contribute to internal injuries (see video below).  Unfortunately, even a lap/shoulder seatbelt that is worn “correctly” by a child may cause injuries in a crash because it usually doesn’t contact the strong parts of the body – pelvic bones and collar bone. Very often the lap belt portion of the seatbelt crosses the abdomen instead which can lead to serious internal injuries and even paralysis.

Still not convinced or need help convincing someone else?  Take a moment and check out this compelling video, Boost ’em in the Back Seatcourtesy of the Department of Pediatrics‘ Division of Community Health and Research (CHR) at Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) in Norfolk, Virginia. Funding for this video and related research was provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If you agree that this is important, life-saving information please share this compelling video and help us spread the word that BOOSTERS ARE FOR BIG KIDS!!!

Summer Summer Summer!

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Yep, it’s that time of year again! My favorite time of year! Summer! Yippee! Jump for joy! The hot weather is here, or at least where I live it is. We’re in the 90s already, the air conditioning has been on for a couple of weeks and I’m predicting a HOT summer this year compared to last year’s mild one. Oh well, I’d rather have a hot summer than a brrrrrrr freezing winter. But that’s why I live in the desert, right?

With the mild weather comes hot kids in hot cars. We warn about this every year and every year someone leaves a kid to bake in the car like a chicken in an oven. We’ve had 2 deaths so far this year in the U.S.

It’s not always on purpose; in fact, most of the time it’s because a child is forgotten. And I feel so bad for the parents who have forgotten their children in their cars because they have to live with that for the rest of their lives. It’s the break in routine, the one day they have to take Sophie to daycare instead of their dh or the one day they’re tasked to bring the donuts to work for the going-away party. So let’s brainstorm and come up with some ideas so we don’t forget our little ones in the backseat when they fall asleep and quiet their non-stop chattering for a bit. We also don’t want to forget about elderly folks either. Sometimes grandma or grandpa want to run errands with us, but want to sit in the car and wait while we’re in the store. Heatstroke is insidious and sneaks up, even when the windows are rolled down.

So for the young-uns, I suggest tossing the cellphone in the backseat next to the carseat. You know you won’t go very far without the cellphone ;). And how about demanding that the daycare call the parents of absent kids? It wouldn’t take long for them to make a quick call each morning and could catch a forgetful parent before it’s too late. What other ideas do you have?

 

NOTE: Less than 15 minutes after I wrote this blog, I turned on the 10pm news and saw that a woman had left her 5 and 6 year old children in the SUV with rolled up windows on an 86° day while she went into a casino. The girls were OK, but very hot; however, mom was arrested on the spot. Wow. Just wow.

Lap Babies on Airplane – A Warning All Parents Must See

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Have you ever experienced severe turbulence during a flight? I’m talking way past little bumps and jolts? If you have, chances are you’ll never forget it. I can think of one particular flight out of JFK on a crazy windy Spring morning. My stomach does flips just thinking about it.

Now think about this – the plane can’t take off if my purse is on my lap, right? And there’s like 3 pages of regulations on how the coffee pot needs to be properly secured. But babies? Sure, they can ride totally unsecured because apparently babies are able to defy the laws of physics on an airplane!

Okay, so we know that’s not true. But have you considered what happens to lap babies when the plane suddenly, and without warning, drops several hundred feet in an instant?  This video from NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) really spells it out. Please take a few minutes to check it out and pass on the information to other parents.

 

 

The FAA’s continued allowance of lap babies is shameful and ludicrous. Unfortunately, many parents will continue to take advantage of this “freebie” because it saves them money. Of course, they’ll have to cough up the dough for the Little Prince/Princess to have his or her own seat on the plane once they pass their second birthday. So what’s the big deal with requiring it for all children regardless of age? Traveling is expensive. Heck, kids are expensive!  But please don’t be penny wise and pound foolish when it comes to your most precious cargo.  Buy a ticket for your child regardless of their age, bring a 5-pt harness carseat on board and buckle your child in it just as you would in the car. Your children will not only be safe in case of turbulence or (Heaven forbid) in case you have to make a rough emergency landing but they’ll be happily contained in familiar surroundings. And if you’re really lucky they’ll just fall asleep so you can have a relaxing and, hopefully, uneventful flight.

 

Looking for more helpful information on flying the friendly skies with kids? Check out our related blogs on the subject:

Recommended Carseats for Airplane Travel

Flying with a Car Seat? Know Your Rights!

Airplanes, Carseats, and Kids—What You Need to Know Pt. 1

Airplanes, Carseats, and Kids—What You Need to Know Pt. 2