Driveway run overs are your children at risk this trauma season

Issue 45 – December 2012

The spring and summer seasons are an exciting time for Kiwi families. With the cold winter months a fading memory, parents are eager to get the kids out of the house to enjoy the warmer days – and do some cleaning indoors and out.

Unfortunately this time is also known as the 'trauma season' due to the sharp rise in hospital admissions from unintentional injuries or accidents. The 'season' brings with it a number of injury risks and one of the most serious is Driveway Run Over injury.

Ann Weaver, Director of Safekids New Zealand, says, 'Every 2 weeks a child is hospitalised with serious injuries received from a moving vehicle on a private driveway in New Zealand. A further five children are killed annually, on average. Children at risk are aged between 1 and 3 years old. Sadly parents and close relatives are most often at the wheel.'

These incidents, however, are preventable.

This trauma season, Safekids asks parents and caregivers to be aware of the risks by knowing the signs of a risky driveway and knowing what home improvements you can make to prevent run overs from happening in your home.

If you have small children in the family (specifically 1 to 3 year olds), or live in an area with children, it is also important for you to know the important safety messages: CHECK, SUPERVISE, and SEPARATE.

What you can do: CHECK, SUPERVISE, and SEPARATE

CHECK:

  • Count the kids before you manoeuvre. Make sure they are belted safely in the car or in a safe place with an adult.
  • Understand how big the blind zones are around your car. Driveway run overs can happen driving forward and reversing.
  • Keep cars locked and don't let children use driveways as play areas.

SUPERVISE:

  • Ensure a responsible person (not a group of kids) is actively supervising toddlers and young children.
  • Late afternoon and early evening are particularly risky times. Special efforts are needed then to make sure children are safe.

SEPARATE:

  • Consider how to separate children from all areas used for driving. You might need to install a childproof gate at doors or exits that lead to driveways.
  • Infants and toddlers should have safe, fenced play spaces.
  • If you're visiting someone's house, park on the road instead of the driveway.
  • If you're expecting visitors, ask them to park on the road or put up a barrier to stop them parking in the drive.

The Danger signs:

  • A long driveway.
  • A driveway in a quiet road or cul-de-sac.
  • A driveway that also provides pedestrian access to house (no separate pedestrian pathway).
  • A driveway leading to lots of parking – cars need to be moved around to make room or allow vehicles to leave
  • No physical barrier (that is, a fence) between driveway and outdoor play.

Summarised from a Safekids media release, November 2012.

 

Published in consumer and occupational safety.