Stay Safe At The Summer Drive-In Theater

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Summer is in full swing, and with kids everywhere out of school, parents are looking for ways to keep their children busy. While the pool, park, and zoo are excellent options for a fun day out, many Michigan families are spending summer evenings at the drive-in movie theater. A drive-in typically takes place in a large parking lot, where vehicles can pay to park and watch movies on theater-size big screens, as they sit comfortably in their cars and listen to the sound on the radio. Some drive-ins even have concession stands where people can buy snacks and drinks. The drive-in movie theater is an entertaining way for parents to use their cars for something other than driving, while making the kids happy, too.

The drive-in movie theater is not a new concept. In fact, they weren’t even called drive-ins originally, but a “park-in” because of the parking lot movie theater setting. In the summer of 1933, motorists parked their cars on the grounds of Park-In Theaters in Camden, New Jersey, the site of the first ever drive-in movie theater. As the idea caught on, more drive-ins popped up all across the country. According to HISTORY.com, one of the largest drive-ins featured parking space for 2,500 cars, a kid’s playground, and a full service restaurant, spread out across 28 acres. If only extravagant drive-ins like that existed today, parents would never have to worry about their children being bored!

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Today, however, there are less than 350 drive-in theater locations across the country. Luckily for Michigan residents, the United Drive-In Theatre Owners Association (UDITOA) says our state is home to 8 different theaters with 18 total movie screens. Metro Detroit is home to two drive-ins: the USA Hockey Arena Summer Drive-In located just off M-14 in Plymouth, and the Ford Drive-In in Dearborn. Movies begin at dusk, and films change weekly, showing everything from Disney cartoons to the latest action blockbuster. 

However, just because vehicles are parked at the drive-in, does not mean they aren’t still dangerous. Children often run around and play in the parking lots at a drive-in as they wait for the movie to start, putting them at risk for a severe injury or fatality from a moving vehicle nearby. The National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) recommends summer motor vehicle safety tips, including tips for kids.

Motorist and Child Safety Tips for Drive-In Theaters

  1. When backing out of a parking space at the drive-in, walk around your vehicle first to look for children running and playing. Children playing are often oblivious to cars around them.
  2. When using a backup camera, it is important to remember that kids might be out of view, but may still be in the path of a vehicle. Additionally, all vehicles have blind spots that increase in size as the height and size of the car increases.
  3. There are lots of people and vehicles moving around upon entrance and exit to the drive-in, so drivers must pay attention to their surroundings and parents must watch out for their children so as to prevent a motor vehicle from backing or running into a pedestrian.

Summer drive-ins transform everyday vehicles from modes of transportation to a relaxing place to kick back and catch the latest movie. The rare and old-school format of drive-ins make them fun for families of all ages. Still, warm weather calls for summer safety tips, and safety at the drive-in is just as important as on the roads. Anytime a motor vehicle is involved is an opportunity to practice automobile accident prevention safety, and the drive-in movie theater is no exception. 


Summer is a great time to enjoy the warm weather at a local drive-in movie theater. Children playing at the drive-in should watch for moving vehicles and drivers must be aware of their surroundings, in order to prevent an injury or fatality from a car crash. If you or someone you know has been involved in a motor vehicle accident, contact The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation.