Tragically one child, often a toddler, is run over in the driveway of their home every week in Australia. Over the weekend the issue of child safety was brought to the forefront again when former Wallabies hooker Brendan Cannon accidentally ran over his fifteen-month-old son Samuel when reversing out of his driveway.
Despite serious injuries, doctors say Samuel should make a full recovery. However it serves as an important reminder for all parents to take extra vigilance when it comes to their children and cars.
Child safety in driveways
“Studies have tested the rear vision of a number of popular cars and results show that there is a large “blind zone” behind most cars,” says a spokesperson for Kidsafe NSW.
There is no substitute for supervision of children in and around vehicles however there are some things you can do to ensure your child is safer.
• ALWAYS SUPERVISE your children whenever a vehicle is to be moved - hold their hands or hold them close to keep them safe.
• If you’re the only adult around and need to move a vehicle, even just a small distance, PUT CHILDREN SECURELY IN THE VEHICLE WITH YOU while you move it.
• ENCOURAGE CHILDREN TO PLAY IN SAFER AREAS AWAY FROM THE DRIVEWAY & CARS - the driveway is like a small road and should not be used as a play area.
• MAKE CHILD ACCESS TO THE DRIVEWAY DIFFICULT – for example use security doors, fencing or gates.
Cars with cameras
NRMA Insurance is calling for manufacturers to continue the trend towards introducing reversing cameras on new cars, following the results of its 2009 Reversing Visibility Index.
Of the 205 cars tested, five per cent scored the full five stars up from zero per cent in 2004. The improvement in the results has largely coincided with an increase in the number of reversing cameras now coming as either standard or optional features on new cars. This year the total reached 22 – up from only one in 2004.
Significantly, for the first time, cameras are now available on popular Australian built large cars, with both the Ford Falcon and Toyota Camry/Aurion introducing it as either an optional or standard feature on selected vehicles.
NRMA Insurance spokesperson Robert McDonald said the results were pleasing, however there was still more that both manufacturers and consumers could be doing.
“Both Ford and Toyota are to be congratulated on their move to introduce reversing cameras to the large vehicle category – meaning more Australian families will have access to this life saving technology,” explained Mr McDonald. “We would like to encourage other manufacturers to follow their lead.
“Less than ten years ago, no manufacturers had reversing cameras, however around half now have them on at least one of their models. And it is pleasing to see manufacturers of more affordable cars, like Kia for example, also embrace this technology.
“Display screens are already installed in many new cars for audio, GPS and air-conditioning. This means a reversing camera can easily be added to the existing system, which hopefully means manufacturers will continue to make them available.”
Mr McDonald said parents who were not looking to upgrade the family car soon could also consider purchasing a reversing camera and having it retro-fitted. A properly installed camera could improve the visibility of the car to a five-star standard.
“Although reversing cameras will improve safety significantly, there is still no substitute for adequate supervision,” added Mr McDonald.