(Cautious Driving Prevents Pedestrian Accidents)
According to the most recently available data from the NHTSA’s Not-in-Traffic Surveillance system, each year there are approximately 10,000 injuries and more than 200 deaths to children (ages 14yrs and younger) due to nontraffic accidents. Quite an astounding, perhaps even surprising, number of crashes considering that this data takes into account only those injuries and fatalities occurring on private roads, driveways, and parking facilities.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of these incidents could and should have been avoided. Of the 218 fatalities reported in 2007, roughly 95% of those occurred as the result of nonoccupants – pedestrians or bicyclists, for example – being struck by a vehicle in motion. Essentially, what this means is that more than 200 children were killed that year because drivers failed to check and double-check in front of and behind their vehicles before stepping on the gas pedal. And for those children lucky enough to survive being hit and/or run over by a vehicle (an estimated 5,000 each year – 2,000 from forward moving vehicles and 3,000 from backward moving vehicles) the injuries are painful and the recoveries often long-enduring. The trauma sustained by a surviving victim of this type of accident can range anywhere from a broken bone or two, to severe head injury that causes irreversible brain damage.
So the next time you are rushing around your house trying to find your keys because you are running late to this appointment or that, or when you are throwing shopping or grocery bags in the car because the time somehow got away from you again, take a moment to consider this: tardiness, while understandably not a sought-after quality, is not the end of the world; taking away a life or a quality of life, on the other hand, is exactly that. Given the chance, which would you rather have to explain – the former or the latter? Me personally, I’ll take running late on any occasion rather than having to look into that mother’s eyes.
Just remember: slow down, take a moment to breath, and look around – ALL AROUND – before putting your foot on the gas pedal. It’s an avoidable tragedy and it starts with you.