How to Be a Better Driver

Leaving Kids Alone in the Car

It will take just a second to run in and pick up the dry cleaning or grab a cup of coffee. It's okay to leave the kids buckled and locked in as long as you can see them the whole time, right? Absolutely not, according to Kids 'N Cars, a nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating injuries and deaths of children in non-traffic, car-related accidents.

It's illegal in many states simply because too many things can happen. In just one year, more than 9,100 emergency room visits and 112 deaths were caused by children left unattended in and around cars, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children have started the engine or put the car in gear and crashed, strangled themselves while playing with the power windows, suffered carbon monoxide poisoning, died from heat stroke, and been abducted during car thefts. In addition, 58 children died in 2002 from being backed over in driveways.

What to do

Keep your car locked and off limits. Don't let your child play in any vehicle, even in your own driveway, and never leave them alone in the car. It's always dangerous to leave your kids in the car, but if it's running or the keys are there, you triple the risk of something bad happening, says Janette Fennell, executive director of Kids 'N Cars.

No one wants to think about being in a car accident. The good news is that by following these suggestions, you can lessen your risk and keep your most precious cargo safe.

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