Driveway safety for small children
The statistics are heartbreaking - each year in Australia an average of 80 children die and 8000 are admitted to hospital as a result of transport-related injuries. And an average of one child a month across Australia dies after being run over in their own driveway.
It's essential that not only parents, but all family and friends, are made aware of the risks and the best strategies to prevent these tragic accidents.
Children under the age of five are most at risk – but children around the age of two years old are most often affected. These kids are mobile, but are too small to be easily visible from the driver's position.
Four-wheel drives, utes, trucks and vans are the most common vehicles involved in driveway runovers – these cars have the biggest blind spots, making spotting a child difficult.
In 85% of cases, the driver doesn't even know that the child is near the vehicle – they're under the impression the child is being looked after elsewhere.
Reversing cameras and sensors
Many new cars come fitted with sensors that detect the presence of objects behind the car when you're reversing, or with rear-facing video cameras. But for less than the cost of a minor accident, you can also fit one of these devices to your existing car.
When reversing, sensors set into the rear bumper use ultrasonic wave technology to detect an object behind the vehicle and then alert the driver with a beeping sound and a coloured-light display, digital read-out, or synthesised voice to indicate the distance to an object behind the car.
Video camera plus LCD screen
These video camera systems are sold as a complete kit or as individual components.
They include a video camera, which can be mounted inside the car, looking out through the rear window, or outside the car, above the rear window, or low down, set into the rear bumper.
There are a few ways an LCD screen can be attached: over the existing rear-view mirror so it basically functions as an extra mirror; or on, or set into, the dashboard, where the screen can also double as a DVD player.
Some ultrasonic systems and all video camera systems require the driver to look at a display or screen rather than turn their head to look through the rear window.
If you're in the market for a new car, check out NRMA's 2014 Reversing Visibility results.
How to keep kids driveway safe:
- Supervise your children whenever a car is being moved – keep them close or hold their hands.
- Restrain children in the car before you move it.
- Don't allow children to use the driveway as a play area and try to keep the area out of bounds (gates, childproof locks) wherever possible – treat the driveway like a road.
- Install a reversing camera/sensor to assist detection of children/objects behind the car in your blind spot – but don't become complacent and assume you don't have to be careful! Having your child actively supervised by an adult is the best choice.
- Don't forget children are unpredictable – always know where they are at all times and know who is supposed to be supervising them.
- Teach your children about safety on and around roads.