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Keeping kids safe around cars

Sarah Caron is a Connecticut-based freelance writer and editor. She lives with her wonderful husband, two adorable kids and two funny beagles. Check out her food blog at Sarah's Cucina Bella.

4,000 lb fear

The safety of our children is a number one priority for parents. But keeping kids safe when other people just don't care is an uphill battle particularly when it comes to cars. From schools to stores, parking lots, kids are in danger.

Two Children Crossing the Street
According to the watchdog organization, Kids and Cars, 152 children have died in the US this year after car-related incidents while they were outside the vehicle. More than 750 kids have been involved in accidents. Last year, 232 child died in similar incidents.

Parents worry about helmets when kids ride bikes and padding when they play sports. Parents childproof cabinets and move medicine high out of reach. But when it comes to the more than 4,000 pound machine outside the house, many just don't think enough.

In your driveway

Have you heard of mothers, fathers or grandparents accidentally backing up and over a small child? The horrifying thought is enough to make any mother cringe and tear up. You want to think that people know better, but the simple truth is that even well meaning people can make mistakes.

That's why you need to be vigilant when getting into your car at home. And you need to encourage others to do the same. Ever since having children, I have become hyper-aware of where the kids and dogs are whenever I backup at my house. It's easy to miss a little head running by when inside even my compact car.

Make sure kids and pets are accounted for and inside the car or home before moving your vehicle.

In the road

When your mailbox is on the road like mine, it can be a harrowing experience to retrieve the latest Pottery Barn catalog. While you can't stop cars from flying down your road (believe me, I've thought about it, but I am not sure the police would appreciate me blowing out other people's tires on purpose), you can ensure that your kids don't wander into the danger zone.

As a parent, you need to teach kids the principles of looking both ways before crossing the road -- every time. For me, on a busy road down the street form a park, I've taught my son to stay at least 15 feet back. You just can't trust other drivers to pay enough attention.

In parking lots

The place where you have the least options and control is in parking lots. You have to walk through them and you cannot avoid thoughtless drivers.

Although you have limited options, those options are important. First, be sure to hold the smallest children and hold the hands of older children. Never loiter. Instead, hurry through the parking lot so that you can get your previous little ones to safety as soon as humanly possible. When a driver is inconsiderate of your family, don't make a scene, but do let them know they did wrong with a firm head shake. They might not appreciate it, but hopefully it will get them to think on some level.

Cars scare me

As a parent, you need to think about the consequences of other's actions on your children. If I had a dollar for every time a car (like the white compact driven by the perky, but unapologetic, blonde that nearly smacked into my children and I last week at Target) came too close to my kids for comfort, we'd be living in a McMansion. But I don't want to be paid for other people's stupidity, I just want my precious children to be safe and secure.

And having a little fear of vehicles, well, that is healthy here. This is one area where I don't want my kids to be fearless and I shouldn't be either.

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