Spot the Tot

By Don Finley

So your old pickup or SUV has some miles on it, and it doesn’t have one of those backup cameras that come standard on new vehicles these days.

Or maybe your vehicle does have a backup camera. It still has blind spots.

You should know about Spot the Tot — an effort to prevent the all-too-common tragedy of drivers inadvertently striking young children with their cars. Often the child is their own.

“We see far too many grieving family members who have backed over a child they didn't see in their rearview mirror," said Jennifer Northway, director of the adult and child injury prevention program at University Health System. "A walk-around your car or truck takes just a few seconds, but can prevent a tragedy from happening."

Safe Kids San Antonio, a coalition led by University Health System, is getting the word out about the dangers kids face when playing behind a parked vehicle. The Spot the Tot campaign encourages drivers to walk completely around their car or truck before getting in and backing out or driving away.

Children are killed or seriously injured each year while playing around cars. Sadly, the drivers often are family members or friends.

Here are some tips to keep kids safe.

  • When looking for kids near your car, also be aware of other things — a pet, a bike, a toy — under or behind the vehicle that could attract a child before you get in and start the engine.
  • Ask an adult to keep an eye on kids and find a safe stop for them to wait when nearby vehicles are about to move.
  • Limit play in the driveway. Pickup toys, bikes, chalk or any other object that kids might want to play with.
  • Find alternative safe play areas for kids away from parked or moving vehicles. Make your driveway a toy-free, kid-free zone.
  • Hold the hands of younger kids while walking near moving vehicles.

Last year, University Hospital’s level I pediatric trauma center treated 89 children hit by cars — a number that has climbed steadily in recent years.

Watch an interview on the Spot the Tot campaign with Jennifer Northway on KSAT-TV.

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