Two children near Akron, Ohio, die after they and two other young people were struck by a vehicle. An 8-year-old boy passes away in Bullitt County, Kentucky, after the car in which he was riding sideswiped a pole and hit a tree. And a Muncie, Indiana, teenager who ran a red light late at night while riding his bicycle is seriously injured after colliding with a cop car.
Although the circumstances surrounding each of these events are different and they occurred in different states, they are all part of what many refer to as the “100 deadliest days of summer.” That’s the 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends — often looked upon by children as a great opportunity to enjoy playing outdoors — that are the most deadly season for accidents. Anything from bicycle crashes, falls, and burns, to more serious consequences from drownings and motor vehicle accidents, occur more frequently during this time of year. In Ohio alone, 36% of fatal child accidents in 2016 were due to vehicular causes, with infants and teenagers ages 15-17 having the highest incidences of fatal accidents in general.
Consider some of the following national statistics provided by AAA, just related to car accidents and kids:
- New teen drivers ages 16-17 are three times more likely as adults to be involved in a fatal car crash.
- The average number of deadly teen driver crashes increases 15% over the summer. More than 1,600 people were killed in crashes involving inexperienced teen drivers during the 100-day period just last year.
- The number of teen drivers involved in deadly crashes increased 10% between 2014 and 2015.
Below, we’ll go over a few ways you can help keep your kids safe this summer, from driving tips to swimming pool do’s and don’ts. If you have any safety tips of your own, feel free to share them in the comments! And remember, Dyer, Garofalo, Mann & Schultz releases its Tiger Safety Calendar each year, which highlights various safety tips for children from grade school age through young adult. Download your copy of the 2017-18 calendar here.
General Summer Safety Tips
School’s out for summer, so many kids tend to think this is a free-for-all. They no longer have the structure of the school environment, their curfews are extended as the daylight hours increase, and they have a lot of opportunities to have fun outside — and get hurt. One of the most important things you can do as a parent to keep your children safe is to continue using a routine during the summer months.
It can be easy to go from protective to overbearing, but a few things you can do include:
- Monitor how kids spend their time. Who do they hang out with? Which friends do they see the most? Do you have a relationship with those friends or their parents?
- Keep an eye on social media use. Depending on the child’s age, you’ll want to be careful as to how involved you get with this. While it’s totally appropriate to control a younger child’s Facebook account and allow specific times for using the internet, a teenager is going to be a bit trickier. You’ll want to have an honest conversation with them about their privacy, your expectations and theirs, and talk to them about bullying.
- Be alert to any alcohol or drug use. Particularly with teen drivers, the risk for involvement in a motor vehicle crash is greater at any level of alcohol consumption than it is with older drivers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 24% of male drivers ages 15-20 who were involved in fatal crashes in 2014 had been drinking at the time of the crash. Meanwhile, 17% of all drivers ages 16-20 that year who were involved in fatal crashes had a blood-alcohol concentration level of 0.08% or higher. The majority of teenage drivers killed in crashes (64%) had been both drinking and driving and not wearing a seatbelt.
It’s important to keep the lines of communication open with your children, no matter how hard it may seem at times. Always encouraging the use of seatbelts, at the least, is a start. While the national seatbelt use rate was 90.1% in 2016, here’s how our states fared: Ohio, 83.8%; Kentucky, 86.5%; and Indiana, 92.4% (way to go, Indiana!).
Staying Safe as a Driver or Vehicle Passenger
While we’ve touched on some scary teen driver statistics, there is more drivers of all ages could be doing on the road to stay safe this summer. Keep in mind the warmer months bring out more road-trip travelers; for instance, Memorial Day weekend in 2017 saw 1 million more travelers than the year prior, many out on our highways.
So, with more people on the road, what’s the most dangerous time to get into an accident? Many are under the impression that driving at night or in inclement weather is the most risky; however, the majority of crashes occur during the daytime and on dry roads. While night vision may be more limited and a wet road or any other weather condition can increase the chances of an accident, it is just as important to keep a watchful eye and model good driving behavior during good weather and bright sunshine.
The most common factors frequently associated with vehicle fatalities are drunk driving, aggressive or distracted driving, drowsy driving, and not wearing a seatbelt. Any car crash could involve multiple factors. Children in the car can be distracting for a parent behind the wheel, or you could be talking to another passenger in the vehicle and not paying close enough attention. No matter what, make sure to buckle up both yourself and your children — nearly 50% of passenger vehicle occupants who are unrestrained are killed in accidents.
Staying Safe as a Pedestrian, Bicyclist
When children are out of school, there’s a greater chance that they will be playing in or near the street and this could expose them to being struck by an oncoming vehicle. Make sure that your children are familiar with how to be a safe and smart pedestrian by looking both ways before crossing the street and always staying out of the street wherever possible and using the sidewalk.
One of the most common ways for kids to get injured as pedestrians is by cutting between different crosswalks to save time. They attempt to dodge traffic rather than waiting for lights and may be distracted by technology and friends, putting themselves at increased risk of a serious accident.
If your children are biking or skateboarding, make sure they wear a helmet, as they can greatly protect against devastating brain injuries. More than two dozen skateboarders are killed each year in the United States; one of those in 2015 was a downhill athlete who was not wearing a helmet. Meanwhile, 2015 also saw the highest amount of bicyclist deaths in 20 years, though most were age 20 or older.
Staying Safe at the Pool — and Beyond
Sadly, while motor vehicle accidents are the biggest cause of death for teenagers during the summer months, drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death in children ages 1-4. You should always follow these tips when you and your children are in and around a body of water:
- Never leave a child unattended near water.
- Make sure your child knows how to swim.
- Teach your children to stay away from drains. Make sure any pool or spa has a compliant drain cover.
- If you own a pool, install a proper barrier, cover, and alarm.
- Know how to perform CPR.
Finally, be aware of the signs of heat exhaustion or heatstroke during the summer — symptoms in both children and adults, particularly the more vulnerable populations like infants and grandparents. And above all, never leave your child or a pet inside of a car during the summer. Even if you think the weather may be cool enough to just be gone a few minutes with the windows open a crack, temperatures can rapidly climb inside of your vehicle and make for a deadly situation that no family wants to witness.
Check out more safety tips from KidsandCars.org, which has information on other ways kids can get hurt this summer, including backovers, carbon monoxide poisoning, underage driving, and more.
Get Help from a Personal Injury Attorney
Even when you do your best to minimize the chances of an accident or injury, other people may expose your child to risks. Has your child been injured in a car crash or other accident due to another person’s negligence? If so, contacting a qualified personal injury lawyer immediately is critical. He or she will know all the rules for personal injury claims in your state to help you win your case.
The experienced personal injury attorneys of DGM&S work with clients in Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky. We know that any accident involving a child, whether they’re injured or not, is devastating. We can help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact our office today for a free case review.