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Soap box derby racing is gaining popularity as a fun family event. The races, designed for children, involve wooden, motorless vehicles that resemble racing cars. The gravity powered cars are often raced on sloped residential streets that are blocked off and may reach speeds exceeding 30 miles per hour.

Following safety proce­dures is essential for ensuring partic­i­pants have a good time and avoid injuries.

Child injured 

Recently, a special needs child I represent was injured in a soap box derby race after the brakes in the car in which he was a passenger failed as the car was going downhill and struck a trailer that was parked just behind the finish line. There was no safety barrier to stop the car. The car and my 7 year-old special needs client smashed into the trailer, causing him to break his jaw and lose several teeth. My client required two surgeries to repair his serious facial injuries. His injuries could have been prevented if the race organizer had followed some simple safety precau­tions.

To begin with, the trailer, a solid barrier, should have never been parked behind the finish line. The race area needs to be clear of any obstacles to give racers maximum space to stop, safely, especially is there is a brake failure as was the case with the injured child. For this particular race, only traffic cones were used as a barrier, which were inade­quate and unsafe.

Know the safety guide­lines

Before your child partic­i­pates in race, it’s good to know about some basic safety guide­lines that must be followed by the race organizer. These include ensuring the partic­i­pants meet safe weight and age limits, that the race cars – especially the brakes – are carefully inspected, and that the race car operators receive proper training to ensure they are qualified to safely operate their cars. In addition, partic­i­pants should wear helmets and shoes, and, of course, there should be adequate, safe, barrier protection at the finish line.

Because many of these safety precau­tions were not followed before this particular race, a child was seriously injured. Read more about it in this Orlando Sentinel story.

If your child has been injured, you may wish to consult with an attorney. We invite you to consider Terrell Hogan. For a free consul­tation, call (904) 722-2228 or 1–888–244-5557.