A frantic mother in Cheektowaga, New York, called 911 to report that she believed her 8-year-old son had been kidnapped. She had searched her home and the surrounding area and could not find her son anywhere. While she was providing a description of her son to police and answering assorted related questions her 8-year-old son was driving her car down a local roadway. Fortunately, when he came to a busy intersection he had the common sense to turn the car around and head back home.

This story might elicit a chuckle from some readers, but the fact is it could have just as easily ended in tragedy. The little boy could have lost control of the vehicle, collided with another vehicle and been hurt or killed, or hurt or killed someone else.

It is imperative that all parents be aware that even if they have not shown their child how to operate their vehicle their child probably already knows how to do it. Kids watch everything their parents do, especially when they are in a car. Just as for some adults, to a child a car represents freedom. If they get an urge for a taste of that freedom all they need to do is get their hands on the keys when nobody is looking, start it up and drive away.

There have even been reports of two small children working in tandem to get the car going where they want, with one kid driving and one child operating the pedals.

If are the parent of a small child do yourself a favor and make certain you keep your car keys some place where your child cannot reach them. And take a few minutes to explain to your children just how dangerous driving can be and why they should never, ever, try to drive themselves any where until they have successfully completed a safe driving course.