Story & Photo by Joseph Boyle
A great number of you reading today’s article will recognizes this classic question from an old, old TV cop show, “Car 54, where are you?” If you look closely at my photo you will spot the “No. 54” painted on the side of my police pedal car.
The question has a nostalgic comedy side and for me a serious side. These kinds of toys are cute, but the motors that propel these little cars are even cuter because we are talking about our kids and grandkids.
Sadly during my two decades of service in law enforcement, there have been too many cases where parents and grandparents, while backing their cars, trucks and SUVs in their driveway, have discovered in horror that they backed their vehicle over their own child.
When this tragedy happens, you cannot live long enough to every forget your child’s last day. The victims were never my children, but these tragedies are permanently imprinted on my memory. It is difficult to imagine what this must be like for the driver.
There are two ways to learn life’s lessons, the easy way and the hard way. My dad, Bill Boyle, always told me, “Joe, experience is a good teacher, but sometimes the tuition is too high.”
Fortunately, avoiding this kind of tragedy is easy. Consider these family safety action steps. If any of them make sense to you, internalize the action step(s) so that they become habitual.
- Always know where your small children are located before operating your vehicle. They can be tucked safely inside the house one minute and under your back tire the next minute.
- Communicate with another adult or older child that you are moving your vehicle and wish to be certain they have eyes on and control over the small child.
- Back slowly. This is a good idea even if there are no children around. If you back slowly, a vehicle striking a person may end up being just a “kiss” resulting in only bumps and bruises.
- Order backup sensors on your next new car or Install them on your old car.
- Order a backup camera on your next new car or install one on your old car.
- Add concave-outward mirrors to each side mirror so you have better vision and eliminate blind spots. This will cost you $5 or less.
- Add motor-home style prism to the back window of your SUV to improve the line of sight and to bring your view tighter to the back bumper thereby reducing or eliminating your rear blind spot.
- If you come in at night when the children are in bed or away from home, position your vehicle that night so you do not have to do any backing he next morning when the children are home running around the driveway.
“Car 54, where are you?” The more important question is, where is the child?
Please do not learn a life lesson the hard way.