Car-related injuries can happen almost anytime, whether you’re behind the wheel, out for an afternoon walk or simply changing a flat tire. Most of us are fully aware of the risks involved with driving, but many of us forget when we pay our auto insurance premiums that we could be the victims of a variety of other car-related injuries as well…without even getting behind the wheel.
In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), just short of a million non-traffic and non-crash incidents occur every year. Because traffic accidents are so common, we tend to focus on those more than other potential car-related injuries. Some can be less serious, while others may be more so and even life-threatening.
For instance, 10,000 people are badly hurt annually when using an automotive jack or other type of hoist, which is related to the 74,000 who are injured by a falling vehicle or vehicle part. Furthermore, an estimated 74,000 more people are struck by a vehicle in the U.S. each year while out walking, jogging or crossing the street. Pedestrians and cyclists were involved in one-third of all non-traffic injuries. In most cases, those injuries are critical or fatal.
Compiled by the NHTSA through various information sources, researchers estimate a total of 1,747 fatalities and 841,000 injuries from non-traffic crashes and non-crash incidents occur on an annual basis.
The report also points out that back-over accidents accounted for 14 percent of injuries and that there were 743,000 injuries from non-crash incidents, such as hyperthermia, hypothermia, and electrocution.
A few simple tips could keep you from ending up in the hospital or worse.
• Automotive jack or hoist – If you’re unfamiliar with this type of equipment, get someone to show you how to operate it before using it. Learning as you go is not always a good idea. With a flat tire, call the Auto Club and let them handle it. Even if you know how, still use common sense and caution.
• Pedestrians and cyclists – When walking, jogging, or cycling at night…wear reflective clothing and stay in the safety zone. In other words, don’t walk or jog close to traffic and check for oncoming cars before crossing. Don’t assume they see you. Wait till they stop completely. Cyclists should also wear reflective clothes and remain in bike lanes or paths. In daytime, be aware of your surroundings and the risks around you. Stay focused.
• Back-over accidents – These are often tragic, as young children between the ages of 1 and 4 are typically the victims because they’re too small to see in blind spots. With many new cars coming equipped with rear-view cameras, this injury can definitely be avoided. If your car doesn’t have this option, don’t back out of your driveway or other area where children can be present without first checking behind the car, then back out slowly. Also, keep your eyes open for adults who may be preoccupied, especially during the holiday season.
• Hyperthermia, hypothermia, and electrocution – Hyperthermia happens when the body temperature rises dramatically above normal, usually resulting in death. Never, under any circumstance, leave your child in a car unattended, especially on a warm or semi-hot day. Even on a 70 degree day, the temperature in the car can rise quickly and could be extremely harmful to a young child.
Hypothermia can be equally dangerous if the body temperature drops significantly below normal. This usually occurs in the winter time when people don’t take the necessary precautions to fit the weather they’re dealing with. Always anticipate the worst; by carrying jackets, warm shoes, blankets, and other items to keep you comfortable in a pinch should you be stranded in your car or have to hoof it to get help.
Electrocution generally falls into the careless category. If you need to jump your battery, don’t attempt it in the rain or with wet hands. Water is highly conductive and you will get zapped. When working on your car and using power tools, check for frayed cords, exposed wires, and any other electrical hazard that can cause you unexpected harm.
Unfortunately, it must be pointed out that accidents occurring while your car is parked or in an immobile state are generally not covered by your auto insurance.
However, if nothing else, the good news is – with a little extra care and caution, most auto-related injuries can be prevented. Common sense can go a long way to keeping you and your children safe…as does staying focused in the garage, driveway or parking lot.
You may also want to check to make sure you’re getting the best rate on your auto insurance. Why not get a free auto insurance quote today?
Have you ever been injured in a car-related incident while not driving? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.