It is being reported out of Vassar, Mi that a 29 year old woman who was driving an SUV with 7 children in it lost control and went into a ditch. The SUV ended up on its side against some trees and 5 of the 7 kids were ejected from the vehicle. Everyone in the SUV sustained injuries, 4 of the ejected children suffered serious injuries. Hopefully all will have a speedy recovery.
Obviously the investigation into the circumstances surrounding a crash remains ongoing and it is not being reported why the driver crossed the center line before she lost control. I do know from personal experience that driving a vehicle full of kids presents its own challenges. Here are some suggestions for safely managing a car full of kids.
1. Make sure every person in the vehicle is properly restrained regardless of where the person is seated. The 5 kids ejected in the above accident were all reportedly seated in the back of the SUV.
According to www.safekids.org babies should be in a rear facing car seat until the child reaches the maximum height or weight allowed by the manufacturer. Children over 2 years old can be in forward facing child safety seats, or in rear facing convertible seats if the child has not reached the maximum rear-facing weight. Once the child exceeds the car seat's height or weight limits, his or her shoulders are above the car seat's top harness slots and/or the tops of the child's ears are above the top of the car seat, the child can be graduated to a booster seat. Remember, as of July 1, 2008, Michigan law requires all children between the ages of 4 and 8 years old and who are less than 4 feet 9 inches tall to be in a child restraint system either a car seat with harness or a booster seat. MCL 257.710e
2. Never attempt to tend to the children while you are driving. That dropped sippy cup or favorite snack? Forget it. Do not attempt to retrieve anything while you are driving. Pull of the road and into a parking lot before tending to the needs of the children.
3. Keep distractions to a minimum. Avoid blaring music, eating, etc. and don't even touch your cell phone while driving with children.
This is not meant to be an exhaustive set of guidelines or legal advice, merely some common sense suggestions from a parent. If you want a great child safety resource, go to www.safekids.org where you will find a wealth of child safety information. Children are our most precious cargo.