Chief's Message - March 2, 2020
As a mother and a grandmother, like any other parent, I always have the safety of my child and grandchildren in mind. Around the clock, it is our responsibility to keep them safe. Two underappreciated precautionary exercises (of many) are driveway and parking lot safety. Though preventable tragedies, these accidents are given little thought until a child is hit or run over. Here are some considerations to safeguard your children:
- Never allow them to play in, on, around, or under vehicles. Keep toys or bicycles off the driveway.
- Only play in designated “safe play” areas, which should be off the driveway and away from vehicles.
- Only play in a driveway with an adult present.
- Keep vehicles locked and in driveways or garages. Store keys out of children’s reach to avoid them turning it on or moving it on accident.
When backing out of the driveway or parked spot:
- Walk around your vehicle to check for children playing. Make sure all children are safe and accounted for.
- Turn off your radio to better hear your surroundings, roll down windows and listen for children and pedestrians.
- Know your vehicle’s blind spots and look again before backing. Check your rearview and side mirrors.
- Keep your foot on the brake until you completely shift into reverse. Look directly through the rear window and back out slowly.
- Look both ways especially over a sidewalk or other area where children and pedestrians are likely, such as school zones and residential areas.
- Florida law states that the driver of a vehicle shall not back up unless such movement can be made with safety and without interfering with other traffic. Take a second look if you have any doubt!
During my career, I’ve seen too many children hurt because precautions were either not taken or done poorly. An appalling example is improper use of a child seat – it is crucial! Florida law requires that children of 5 years old and younger are to be secured in a crash-tested, federally approved child restraint device.
Recap of requirements:
- Children ages 0 to 3 must be in child restraint devices of a separate carrier or a vehicle manufacturer’s integrated child seat.
- Children age 4 and 5 must be in a separate carrier, integrated child seat, or booster seat.
The best child seat is one that fits your child, fits your car, and used by drivers correctly, every time. Read the car seat’s instruction manual and the portion of your vehicle’s owner manual when you install a car seat. Bonus tip: remember to check for car seat and booster seat recalls.