School holidays are approaching and for many families, that means hitting the road to take a break out‐of‐town.

Along with the colouring books, snacks, water, music and other car trip items, child safety experts are reminding parents not to leave caution at home either.

The latest statistics from Monash University’s Victorian Injury Surveillance Unit reveal that almost 4,000 children were treated in hospital for transport‐related injuries – the vast majority caused by motor vehicles driven by a family member or friend.

These figures do not include deaths.

Child safety spokeswoman, Melissa Abalo, from Homesafe Kids, adds that what makes such situations extra lamentable is that they are a 100 per cent avoidable.

“Over the winter break, there will be many more cars on our roads and undoubtedly, a lot of tired and distracted drivers,” Abalo says. “We don’t want to see children lose their lives or end up in hospital because of silly and preventable accidents.”

Along with responsible driving, parents should remember safety within the vehicle as well.

The Monash University statistics show that over 16,000 youngsters were hospitalised for hit/struck/crush injuries, such as finger jams.

Thirty of these children subsequently had one or more amputations as a result of these mishaps.

“Juggling children is not easy, and in the midst of packing luggage, getting everyone into the car and possibly running behind schedule as well, accidents can happen. Someone gets their finger wedged in the safety belt clip, a car boot is slammed onto a little hand – it takes but a second,” Abalo points out.
“We’re asking for parents to keep their eyes open at all times and just be that extra bit careful. A little caution means you won’t spend your holiday at the doctor.”

For more safety tips, families can visit the Homesafe Kids website.

In the meantime, Abalo is hoping the child car safety message will become as ingrained as campaigns against drink‐driving and speeding.

“It’s up to all of us to ensure that not one more child is injured or dies as a result of avertable accidents and behaviour. It doesn’t just ruin a holiday – it’s forever.”