Driveways killer for kids

By Mike Dinsdale

A child-safety advocate is urging Northland parents and caregivers to take more care in driveways after a child died near Kaikohe and another was badly injured by a family member in a Ruakaka driveway.

National organisation Safe Kids is running a safety campaign around the dangers to children in driveways and director Ann Weaver said the latest Northland cases were timely reminders.

Last Thursday a young boy's arm was badly cut when he was run over in a Ruakaka driveway by a family member. On February 5, 18-month-old Summer Indiana June Muldrock-Holmes died after being struck by a vehicle on a driveway in Ohaeawai.

Ms Weaver said every two weeks in New Zealand a child winds up in hospital with serious injuries received from a vehicle on a private driveway, and five children die annually, on average, in the same way.

She said most children injured in such accidents were toddlers aged about 2. When the incident was not fatal, the injuries often were severe.

"The driver is usually a close family member and the devastating impact of these events upon families cannot be overstated," Ms Weaver said.

Raising awareness was the key to preventing more people having to live with that tragic consequence.

"Make sure you know where the children are at all times and don't assume. If you can't see them, you need to get out and ensure they are being supervised by another adult."

She said children could move so fast that it was essential a driver knew for certain when entering or leaving a driveway that a youngster was not running around.

Signs warning that children could be playing in the driveway were a good idea.

"Five deaths (a year) is far too many and people need to realise that they cannot see everything around their vehicle with their rear view and side mirrors," Ms Weaver said.

Up to 10 metres at the back of a vehicle and three metres at the side and in front can be blind zones for drivers.

"People think they are driving in a bubble and that they can see everything inside that bubble, but that's not the case.

"We want to prevent more children dying in this way and people having to live with those terrible consequences," Ms Weaver said.

- Northern Advocate

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