Recently, a 6-year-old boy from Watauga County, North Carolina was in critical condition after being accidentally struck by a vehicle in a residential driveway. We all have compassion for the family and cannot imagine how the driver, be it a relative, friend or neighbor, must feel at a time like this.
I've heard these stories throughout my career and even had the unfortunate duty of investigating a few of these tragedies. If you Google "child hit by car," pages of these situations come forward. These incidents are happening way to often.
Why, when no one wants to be involved in such an accident, do they keep occurring so frequently across the US? That's the topic we're addressing here.
There are a few contributing factors that we often see and the best advice I can give is, when you enter a motor vehicle, slow down. Slow down both yourself and the vehicle.
We all know that feeling of being rushed, and many times that feeling overtakes us, especially when we're heading out of the house, office, store, etc. And when we get rushed, we get careless. That's just human nature.
The next time you find yourself in this situation behind the wheel, take a deep breath and begin to get hyper-vigilant of your surroundings. Maintain that vigilance until you get into the flow of traffic. If you notice, it's similar to that same increased sensory feeling you get when you're merging onto a busy freeway.
A technique that is taught by many driving schools is to walk all the way around your vehicle prior to starting your car and never rely completely on your electronic guidance system (i.e. rear camera).
The other factor we often fail to take into consideration is our field of view, or should I say, our limited field of view. Unfortunately, four wheeled vehicles are not designed as a glass bubble with a 360° view. By virtue of being inside a vehicle, your view is automatically restricted. There has to be a good combination of both situational awareness and slow movement of your vehicle.
Take into consideration that your field of view is naturally different, simply because of height, than that of a child. In addition, we see the world from a dynamic perspective . Our perception, our knowledge and the speed at which we process the world around us, all contribute to our ability to remain relatively safe. Children possess none of that at an adult level.
So the next time you get behind a wheel, take a deep breath, slow down and unless you are absolutely sure of what is around you, stop and double check your immediate surroundings. The life you could be saving might be very young.