Care urged as driveway deaths soar

KATIE KENNY
Last updated 16:19 23/04/2014

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Safety groups are urging parents to separate play areas from driveways after a spate of child deaths.

Four children have been killed in private driveways this year, and five in the past six months.

Before this year, on average five Kiwi children were killed in private driveways a year, Safekids Aotearoa said.

Plunket national child-safety adviser Sue Campbell said a child needed hospital treatment every fortnight for serious injuries suffered from vehicles on private driveways.

She said physical separation was the best protection for children.

"With the best intentions in the world, you can't supervise toddlers 24/7," she said.

"People need to recognise the risk. Whether it's a shared or long driveway, children's play areas must be totally separated. That's the best protection.

"There are problems with all sizes of vehicles, and the blind spots are huge.

"If people can afford reversing cameras, that's useful, but it's not the sole answer."

The NZ Transport Agency agreed.

"While technology like reversing cameras and alarms can help to reduce the risk, even vehicles equipped with these cameras can still have blind spots," NZTA spokesman Andrew Knackstedt said.

"It's important that children are discouraged from playing on or around moving vehicles, and drivers should always check, and double-check, for children when reversing any vehicle."

New Zealand had the worst record of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries in protecting its children from accidental injuries, a 2007 United Nations Children's Fund report said.

Housing Minister Nick Smith said the issue was a priority, and last year he announced a $30 million safety programme for 13,000 state homes.

The Department of Building and Housing audited the driveway safety of Housing New Zealand homes with young children, and was installing fencing, self-closing gates, warning signs, speed bumps and convex mirrors to help prevent accidents, he said.

Safekids Aotearoa research from 2011 showed a typical child injured in a driveway incident was a toddler of Maori or Pacific ethnicity.

Between 2000 and 2010, about 93 per cent of child driveway fatalities occurred in the North Island, with 27 per cent in Manukau City.

"The driver is usually a close family member. The devastating impact of these events upon families cannot be overstated," Safekids director Ann Weaver said.

Driveway deaths this year

❏ A 5-year-old boy was killed in a driveway in Waikato on Tuesday. Police were called to a Pokeno property about 4pm after the boy "fell under a trailer". The boy was understood to be riding on the trailer with a sibling. It was carrying a small digger and being towed by a four-wheel-drive vehicle.

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❏ Two weeks ago, 23-month-old Te Manawa Whetuki Renata was killed after being hit by a reversing car in a Papatoetoe driveway.

❏ Last month, 18-month-old Mila Tamihana died when she was run over on a driveway in West Auckland.

❏ Brodie Jacob Molloy, 7, died last month when he was hit by a reversing vehicle in the driveway of a Wallacetown, Southland, property.

- Fairfax Media

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