BALLSTON, N.Y. - "Buckling up" is a practice children learn from when they are very young, but according to AAA Public Affairs Manager Eric Stigberg, a vehicle does not have to be moving fast, or at all, for it to be dangerous.
Whether it's for a few minutes or a few seconds, Stigberg says it only takes that amount of time for a child to accidentally put a vehicle into gear.
"It's so important for parents to stress to their children that a vehicle is not a place to play and do everything they can to keep their children away from unattended vehicles and also never leave children unattended in that vehicle for any amount of time," says Stigberg.
The last time the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration put out a report on non-traffic related deaths among children was in 2007, it stated backovers accounted for 45 percent of fatalities, and sport utility vehicles and trucks are involved in more backovers than cars.
In 2006, the NHTSA reached an agreement with the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers that all automatic transmission vehicles sold in the U.S. would be equipped with brake transmission shift interlock technology, a safety technology intended to prevent children from accidentally putting a vehicle into gear. The technology requires drivers to have a foot on the brake in all positions when shifting out of park.
In Monday's accident in Ballston, state police say the vehicle involved was a 2008 model.
Stigberg emphasizes to parents to never leave a vehicle unattended.
"Unfortunately, especially with older vehicles, they're very easy for a child or anyone else to get into, and put it into drive or reverse just by shifting that gear shift," says Stigberg. "Those accidents can take place as close as your own driveway. You get out of the car just to run a quick errand or stop at your parents' home or whatever it might be, saying "hey kids I'll be right back", and it just takes that instant for something tragic to take place."
A memorial service will be held for Lane Rowe at 1:00pm Thursday at the United Methodist Church in Burnt Hills.
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