A driver opens their door after parking along an uptown curb Wednesday morning. While a driver has no choice but to exit a vehicle from the left side, children should be taught to get in and out on the passenger side for safety, writes Sally Stewart. (Tracy Holmes photo)

LETTERS: Vehicle safety must be taught from an early age


It has come to my attention that children are learning some bad habits that need to be corrected if they are to be safe and if others are to be safe.

Twice in three days, I witnessed a parent allowing a child to enter or exit their vehicle from the driver’s side, as opposed to the pavement side – on the right. The child forms the habit of getting out on the wrong side.

A father held the hand of his preschooler and hoisted her into the back seat of their pickup truck and put her in the carseat behind papa’s seat. If that happens two times a day for a year that is more than 600 times she learns that the driver’s side is the side from which to disembark.

A little boy hopped out of an SUV at the swimming pool and nearly got nailed by an oncoming driver who was about the pass the incorrectly-parked SUV. I was told that was not a drop-off spot because it is an exit and parents are asked to park in a proper space and then let the children get out.

Luckily, this boy didn’t dash into the oncoming car. I may have been wrong but the parent drove off and I spoke to the boy who was oblivious to the danger. I told him that I had witnessed his close call and how to avoid it – don’t ever get out on the wrong side of the car. He looked at me as though I were crazy, but maybe a shred of our encounter stayed in his brain.

One third of my life has been training, working and instructing in the field of pediatric nursing. I have also worked in preventive health as a public health nurse, which involves accident-prevention and safety. I’ve seen enough kids laid up in traction and wheelchairs.

My late husband, John, almost took a whack when he opened his car door without checking. A truck came along on the four-lane highway and ripped the door off the car. Fortunately, John was still in his seat.

Parents, caregivers and all drivers, please remind your backseat passengers to get it right – get out right and stay all right.

Sally Stewart, South Surrey

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