Driveway safety for children: What you can do
Roughly every two months a child is killed by being run over in a driveway, and roughly every two weeks one is seriously injured. Once a child starts walking they are at risk in a driveway and toddlers can move rapidly. Their tiny size makes it difficult for them to be seen out the back window of a car, and driveway injuries tend to cause their small frames to suffer horrific injuries, or sometimes, death.
Driveway runover injuries are not only caused by parents. Friends, relatives and neighbours – anyone that might have access to your driveway – are frequently at fault, especially because they may not be as conscious of where children are on the property.
The risk factors in driveway runovers
Knowing the risk factors means you can be aware of them for your house or when you are visiting property where children might be playing.
• Shared driveways – when multiple households use the same driveway it means there’s increased traffic and less awareness of whether there are children around
• Fine weather – children are more likely to be out playing if the weather is nice
• Long driveways – the longer the driveway the more likely it is that it is a front garden where children play, and it also means you will be reversing for longer
• No fencing – driveways that are fenced off are more difficult for children to run on to
• Pedestrian access – if there’s no separate pedestrian access then the house’s occupants must use the driveway to get to the front door
• Types of vehicles – utes, vans and SUVs are the most difficult to see behind when reversing.
How to reduce the chance of a driveway accident
Know where the kids are that live on the property. If they’re yours, check they’re inside, or if they are outside make sure they are either in the back garden, or know about vehicle safety. You can teach vehicle safety to your children from quite a young age.
If your vehicle doesn’t have a reversing sensor, fit one. There are kits that can be bought for a reasonable price that can be fitted to almost any vehicle. It’s best to get one where the camera automatically turns on when you put the vehicle in reverse – this takes a little more installation, but it’s worth it. Don’t rely solely on the camera, though, as the image can give a slightly distorted view of what’s behind you.
Take a walk around your vehicle before you reverse away. This will make sure you don’t have a child sitting on a tricycle behind you.
There may not have been a child behind you when you first started moving, but they can move quite quickly. Reverse slowly and keep an eye on your mirrors. You should make sure your mirrors are set up correctly, as well as your seat and steering wheel so that you have good control over your vehicle, and visibility out of the windows is as good as possible. Remember to keep your windows clean, too.
If you are taking your children somewhere, double-check they are all in the vehicle and have their seatbelts on.
Fence off your driveway from the garden and put a gate across the driveway so that visitors have to park on the road.
If you are visiting a house with children, park on the road.
Don’t let your kids play in the car as they can quite easily release the handbrake and the car could roll downhill and over another child. If you are the only adult in the house and you need to move your vehicle, take the kids with you – don’t leave them in the house unsupervised.