Keeping kids safe in the driveway

This week’s guest blogger Kate Pickle was a preschool teacher in a past life (ie before kids). Here, she discovered a passion for understanding small humans, plus a great outlet for her creative streak. Nowadays, she is a stay-at-home Mum with lots of chickens and a start-stop veggie garden. Kate blogs at picklebums.com.

Child with football behind car

PLAY SAFE: Knowing the dangers associated with children in the driveway and knowing how quickly and easily an accident can occur is a good way to prevent it.

CRUNCH!

I hear the sound from inside the house and come running out to see what has happened. As my husband pulls the car forward the crumpled bike is revealed from under the back bumper.

There’s no damage to the car and it’s just an old bike, but I know what we are both thinking…

“I didn’t see it at all,” he says ashen faced, “…imagine if that was one of the kids.”

It’s one of those stories I hear on the news every now and then. A child has been killed, run over in the driveway by their family car.  A tragedy that will affect that family forever. And my heart sinks, because that could easily be our family. It could easily have been a child instead of a bike.

We both drive large cars, we have four kids, we have to drive large cars to fit them all in. Large cars are often high off the ground and the visibility of a small object that is close to you is minimal at best. Often, like with the bike – even when using mirrors and double checking – you can’t see anything at all.

So how do we stop a tragedy happening to our family? How can we make sure our driveway is safe?

Choose a car with better rear visibility

When we looked at updating my husband’s 4WD, high on the list of priorities was a car that had a reversing camera. The bike incident had really rattled him and having a car that had better rear visibility was important.

You can find more information about choosing a car with better rear visibility here.

While the rear camera helps, it is not fool proof. Children move fast and sometimes you may not see a child in your rear camera until it is too late. So a rear camera is just one thing you can do to help keep your kids safe.

Educate your children about driveway safety

We have eight year old twins, a five year old and a two year old. All of them know that it is not safe to be out on our driveway when cars are moving.

We have taught them that the safe place to be is either in the car, or up on our high front veranda. If they are standing on the veranda the car driver can see them all clearly and know they are safe, and they are to stay there until the driver tells them it is okay to move.

We also teach our kids that it is not safe to play around cars. Playing between or behind parked cars is never okay as you just don’t know when a car might move without knowing you are there.

Supervise your kids

Our older kids are very aware of the rules and the danger, but even at 8 years of age,  kids can be unpredictable, they can get mixed up, or forget, and the two year old only has a passing interest in any ‘rules’ or ‘dangers’. So no matter how well educated our kids are, there is no substitute for supervision.

Always supervise your children whenever a car is to be moved: hold their hands or hold them close to keep them safe. If there is not another adult to supervise them standing on the veranda, then the best place for them to be is safely restrained in the car.

Educate yourself

Knowing the dangers associated with children in the driveway and knowing how quickly and easily an accident can occur is a good way to prevent it. Being vigilant, taking the extra time to make sure everyone is safe and double checking every time we move the car are things we always do to keep our kids safe.

Terrible accidents happen, even to good people, with good intentions, but if we are educated about the dangers we can do our best to avoid them.

You can also find more information on driveway safety here.

What rules do you set for your kids to keep them safe around cars?

You can also join the conversation on Twitter. Just use the #NRMAChildSafe hashtag to share your thoughts.

Keeping kids safe around cars

Megan BlandfordThis week’s guest blogger, Megan Blandford, is a former career girl, now work-at-home mum and writer. Megan is mum to a preschooler and has a tiny one still inside her. Megan says she likes writing so much, she made it her job. She also loves to travel, daydream, bake sweets and make lists for everything. She blogs at writingloud.blogspot.com

Crossing the road

BABY STEPS: Being there with young kids as they navigate their way through road safety is important, as is providing them with the building blocks for future safety when you’re not always there.

When my daughter was what she considered to be a grown-up and independent two-and-a-half year-old, we had a very real and very loud argument on the side of a busy road.

My parenting philosophy is quite focused on choosing battles, so I’ll let a lot of things go. However, this particular day the argument was over her refusing to hold my hand across said busy road.

Road safety is most definitely a battle I believe to be worth fighting.

That day we stood at the side of the road as she threw the most enormous tantrum (I think it still holds her record for the worst one), and I waited it out until she decided to calm down and listen to me. Okay, so that never happened – instead I eventually picked up my still-tantrumming toddler and carried her across the road – but it was so memorable that she’s never again made a fuss about the rules for crossing roads.

When it comes to kids and cars there needs to be not just vague boundaries, but very definite rules around what is and isn’t safe. Here are some we use in our family:

Holding hands across roads

As mentioned above, this is one we have always stuck to, and will do until our daughter is a bit older. As well as holding hands I always ask her to check roads before we cross, to get her into the habit of checking for herself rather than always relying on mum or dad to decide if it’s safe. Being there with young kids as they navigate their way through road safety is important, as is providing them with the building blocks for future safety when you’re not always there.

Don’t trust your life on a light bulb

This is a pearl of wisdom from my Dad, and applies to drivers as well as pedestrians. When a light turns green, it is not a signal to be blindly trusted. Always, ALWAYS take a couple of moments to look around you before entering any intersection, and make sure your kids are aware of this little – but vitally important – piece of knowledge. When that little man turns green when you’re about to cross a road, you and they still need to look in every direction to check the cars have stopped.

Driveway safety

Seeing someone arrive at our house is always exciting to my daughter, but the rule in place is that she isn’t allowed past a specifically set point (there’s no room for error if you remove the vagueness) until the car’s engine is switched off. We also have our front door bolted high enough that she can’t reach, so that even going outside to that set point requires an adult’s supervision. When it comes to keeping kids safely away from cars in driveways, no precaution is ever too much.

Car parks

Car park safety is similar to driveway safety; that is, children and moving vehicles shouldn’t be together without constant adult supervision or restraint. The aim is to get the kids strapped into their car seats before you unpack things like shopping bags and prams. The NRMA recommends never leaving children alone in the car, so only do this if you’re still around the vehicle.

Keep the kids with you

One of the NRMA’s messages is to keep your children with you at all times when you’re out and about. Leaving kids alone in the car can be a dangerous decision, so even if you’re walking away for just a few minutes you should take the kids with you. Better options, though, include using petrol stations where you can pay at the pump or, if you’re more organised than me, ducking out when the kids are with another carer or at school to fill up the car.

Who’s in and who’s out?

If you have more than one child you should give some thought to the order in which you place them in and out of the car. As a general rule, younger children should be the first out if they’re easily restrained or held and all kids should be in and out of the car via the door closest to the kerb.

Inside the car

Being around cars outside is a real danger; however one that is often underestimated is having children inside the car without an adult. Child safety locks on doors are vital, as is protection against kids locking themselves in. Keep your car keys on you at all times, and if you have a child who loves playing with them consider having a set of keys that are unrelated to the car (old keys, for example) for toys instead.

What rules do you set for your kids to keep them safe around cars?

8 green driving tips [Infographic]

Simple changes to your driving habits and regular vehicle servicing could save you over $2,500 a year and help the environment.

Try some of these tips and start saving!

  1. Maximise tyre pressure
  2. Regularly service your car
  3. Remove roof racks and bull bars
  4. Turn off air con whenever possible
  5. Switch your engine off in traffic jams
  6. Watch your speed on highways
  7. Remove heavy objects from your car (ie don’t use your car as a cupboard!)
  8. Avoid hard accerelating and braking
Tips for greener driving

What are your tips for driving greener?

The Mother of All Road Trips

In November 2011, Mitchell Woods won NRMA Free2go’s Facebook comp – Mother of All Road Trips. His prize was a road trip designed by him and worth $10,000. He got to choose his own form of transport, the friends he travelled with, stop-offs along the way and activities like Go Karting and vertical wind tunnel-ing. Here Mitchell reports on what he and his mates got up to….

The boys - Mitchell, Adrian, Smyth, Nicolas, James, Ryan, Kyle, Phillip and Trevor

The Booiz - Mitchell, Adrian, Smyth, Nicolas, James, Ryan, Kyle, Phillip and Trevor

February 5th, and the NRMA’s Mother of All Roadtrips was finally at hand. The boys assembled at mine, ready to leave at 8:00am, probably the earliest I’ve ever been awake. Nick arrived in his bogan outfit; Bintang singlet, footy shorts, thongs and a straw hat, only to be outdone by James, who rocked up in the mettest outfit yet. We loaded the car up with the essentials, booze, chips and a few clothes.

Mitchell gets some air in the vertical wind tunnel in Port Macquarie

Vertical wind tunnel in Port Macquarie

Our first stop was Port Macquarie, where we did the Vertical Wind Tunnel, which was great fun. Especially for Adrian, who went up higher than anyone else only to plummet straight back to the ground on his backside. Port itself was great, besides McDonalds which was made up mostly of scaffolding and tarp. We stayed at the Quality Sails Resort which was far classier then us. Smyth attempted to catch a hotel catfish as well. We also got Kyle to order us 10 cheeseburgers and just as he ordered we ran off with the money and left him there.  Somehow he still came out with the cheeseburgers.

Go Karting

Go Karting in Coffs Harbour

Day two and we were off to Coffs Harbour. First up was Go Karting, 20 laps which turned out to be 200. Nine inexperienced Go Karters with an interest in badly hurting each other was not going to end well, and it didn’t. James certainly copped the short straw. He was run over by both me and Ryan. The wheel of my kart smashed him in the face and left us both stranded in the middle of the most violent turn of the whole course. And it wasn’t long until Ryan and Adrian crashed into each other because of us. But I think it’s fair to say the karts wanted to kill us more than each other did. Smyth ripped his steering wheel clean off the kart and I had to park mine off in the hill because I didn’t have any brakes. We checked into the Aquajet Hotel to chill out for the night, where James found a freezer which had a shelf labelled ‘birds’. Smyth also let a tree frog loose in one of the rooms.

Driving the van

Driver Trevor (aka Dad)

We were up early and off to Byron Bay for day three. We started the day with a kayak tour, after first going to the wrong place and chilling with Woody Harrelson’s doppelganger. Many a kayak was flipped and PJ somehow survived being hit and crushed by the full force of Kyle and Smyth’s kayak. That wasn’t the end of it though; Kyle and Smyth then caught a wave in towards the beach smashing into me and PJ’s kayak as a wave crashed on top of both of us, sending us all tumbling under water. The beachgoers were surprised to see two empty kayaks ashore.

On the tour we came across a school of dolphins charging all the waves. It was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever witnessed! There had to be at least 30 of them all catching waves together and flipping out of the water right next to us.

A beer by the bay

A beer by the bay

We’d passed the halfway point of the roadtrip and were headed for The Gold Coast. We spent the first day at Movie World where we got to ride the most amazing rides ever – the Superman Escape, the Batwing and the Green Lantern. We also watched the Stunt Driver show which was incredible! We checked into the Mantra Bel Air in the afternoon and it was by far the best hotel we’d been too.

The next day we were off to Wet n’ Wild after having all-you-can-eat pancakes. It wasn’t the best combination in hindsight. The rides there were also great, especially the Aqua Loop and the Surfrider (possibly the scariest ride of my life). We missed Movie World so much that we sprinted across to it before it closed so that we could go on the Superman Escape once again. That night we caught a bus into Surfers Paradise to go out; there were almost too many clubs to choose from. It was such a great night in such a great city, definitely the best destination of them all.

And yeah the trip was so great. Best week of everyone’s lives!