Five-year-old Ashton Mewburn had stern advice for his mother, Valeria Tokoar, as the pair walked across a carpark this week.
"He reminded me, You have to look both ways. We don't want to get run over like Tyreese,"' says Tokoar.
It is two years since Ashton's little brother was killed outside his Napier home by a relative reversing out of the driveway. Tyreese was just 19 months old. He had slipped unseen through an open gate and ended up in the path of the departing car.
Like most children killed in driveways, Tyreese suffered massive head injuries. "He was still breathing when we brought him inside but he stopped just as the ambulance pulled up to the house," says Tokoar, 25, a security firm worker.
The family moved from Napier to Auckland after the accident to start a new life. Lately young Ashton has been talking about his brother a lot, saying he misses Tyreese; that he doesn't have anyone to play with.
Tyreese's presence lingers at the Henderson home where Tokoar lives with the boys' father, Rocky Mewburn, 31. Framed photographs of the blonde tot line the living room wall. More photos and memorabilia are displayed on a bookshelf.
Ashton often flicks through a remembrance album that Tokoar put together on the night of Tyreese's funeral. It includes his birth and death certificates and newspaper cuttings documenting the tragedy. On the March 6 anniversary of his death, they have a dinner and blow out candles on a birthday cake for him.
Every year about five New Zealand children die as a result of a driveway accident. Another 12 are hospitalised.
Australia has about 11 deaths a year but its population is five times the size of New Zealand.
Common injuries include brain damage, limb fractures and abdomen and chest injuries. About 11 per cent of the children who survive have injuries so severe they are left with a permanent disability.
Figures on driveway accidents are only approximate because New Zealand lacks a formal system for recording data. This lack of specific information prompted the Child and Youth Mortality Review Committee to conduct a study into slow-moving vehicle deaths.
The report, due out in August, reveals Tyreese's story is all too common. Most children killed in driveways are aged under 6, the driver is usually known to the child and in most cases the driver is reversing at the time of the accident.
Chair of the committee, Nelson paediatrician Dr Nick Baker, says parents and caregivers under estimate the risk of cars around their homes.
Children tend to see cars as friendly things, says Baker, unlike the dark or deep water. Consequently, kids will get into cars and move around vehicles without fear.
It is the duty of caregivers to make sure they are kept safe. "Cars are probably the most dangerous thing around the home," says Baker. "A moment's attention lapse causes a burden for life."
The mortality review committee has teamed up with child injury prevention service, Safekids, to raise awareness about driveway dangers with a nationwide campaign launching next week.
Safekids is holding workshops with community groups throughout the country and will run an advertising campaign from July 1 trumpeting a three-pronged safety message - check for children before driving off, supervise children around vehicles always and separate play areas from driveways.
It costs little or nothing to follow these lifesaving rules. "It's about being vigilant," says Safekids director, Ann Weaver. "Ensure you do it every time."
Safekids has drawn on current New Zealand research to form the foundation for the campaign.
North Island children are much more likely to be killed in driveways. Only 7.3 per cent of reported deaths in the past 10 years occurred in the South Island.
Manukau is the most dangerous region in the country for kids, the location of more than a quarter of the nation's driveway fatalities.
Sadly dads are most commonly behind the wheel of killer vehicles. Fathers were identified as the driver in one-third of fatal driveway accidents in the past decade.
Children who suffer significant driveway injuries in the Auckland area are all sent to Starship Hospital for treatment. The hospital admits a driveway victim on average every two weeks. Maori and Pacific children are over-represented in injury statistics.
In the past four years, more than half of children hospitalised for driveway injuries have been Maori. Pacific children accounted for almost a quarter of cases.
Emergency department head, Dr Michael Shepherd, says this type of injury is particularly difficult because the driver is nearly always someone close to the child.
"They feel guilty," says Shepherd. "It's so traumatic."
Tokoar says the months following Tyreese's death were difficult for the relative driving the car as police carried out investigations to determine whether charges should be laid. Tyreese was killed in March. It took until September for the coroner to find his death was an accident.
Tests were carried out on the car to determine the speed the car was travelling and how Tyreese could have ended up under its wheels. When the driver got his car back, he quickly sold it.
Coroner's reports into children's deaths show a disturbing pattern. In all situations drivers claim to have been looking in rearview mirrors and checking where they were going as they executed their deathly manoeuvres.
"People don't recognise the lack of visibility around their cars," says Weaver.
In safety demonstrations Weaver has lined up a classroom of 25 children behind a car without the driver spotting a single one.
There are blind zones of up to 10m behind a car and 3m around the car where drivers cannot see a small child.
It is no wonder the average age of a child hit is 2 years old. At that age, they are too short to be seen from the drivers' seat when they stand close to a vehicle and exactly the right height to align them with the bumper of the car. And this is not just a reversing issue. Most incidents happen when the vehicle is backing, but 38 per cent occur when the vehicle is moving forward.
There are safety features available for cars such as reversing cameras and sensors that are designed to reduce the risk of injury, but AA motoring services advice manager Jack Biddle says it is important to remember all cars are potentially dangerous with children in driveways. In reality, there is no good or bad car.
"I get sweaty hands just talking about this," says Biddle. "Sometimes kids crawl under the bumper and you won't see them. You can have parking sensors around the bumper but I don't want to paint a picture of if you put them on the car you'll be ok. If anything is below the sensor, it just won't pick it up."
When a child is hit their injuries are likely to be severe. For this reason, Shepherd says it is important to focus on prevention, not treatment.
He has co-written a paper, published last year in the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, on the influence of the built environment on driveway run-overs.
A typical Kiwi house has a long driveway up the side of the property leading to a garage at the rear of the section. This configuration spells danger for kids.
Shepherd's study found children were more at risk of injury when a driveway is longer than 12m, driveways exit onto a cul-de-sac and parking areas are on the property.
Another New Zealand study found children are four times more at risk of getting hurt by vehicles in driveways that are not separated from the house by a fence.
Based on this evidence, Safekids is advocating that local councils incorporate safer property design into their district plans. And the organisation wants all new properties to be designed with separate entry points for pedestrians and vehicles, children's play areas fenced off from vehicle areas, and garages built close to the road.
Changing the environment has saved lives in the past. After legislation to fence swimming pools was introduced the number of children under 6 who drowned in pools fell by two-thirds.
Some changes have already been implemented by Housing NZ. Building design guidelines dictate vehicle access for high density housing and safety for pedestrians, especially children, must be a key consideration. Annually, Housing NZ puts $500,000 into installing fences in homes with children to provide a barrier between play areas and the road or driveway.
Weaver is advising people to take action by talking to their local councillor or community board members about driveway safety and make submissions to the council's annual plans. A submission template is available on the Safekids website, www.safekids.org.nz
Tokoar has her own message for parents. Make sure young children are in the house, out of harm's way, when cars are coming and going.
Tokoar says she used to back out with a quick glance in the rear vision mirror. Now she will make a thorough check around the vehicle.
"Even if you are late for a meeting, it's worth the two seconds to make sure nothing is behind your car."
STEVEN COOPER, 18 months
Died October 31, 2007, in Wairoa from head injuries. Steven wandered away from a house he was visiting with his father. A driver reversed over him in a nearby driveway.
ASHTON WATERS, 17 months
Died September 14, 2008, in Waikato Hospital from head injuries after straying on to the driveway next to his Matamata home. He was hit by his neighbour's reversing Toyota Hilux.
LEVI FALEMONE, 5
Died October 27, 2008, in a church carpark in Lower Hutt from head injuries. He was struck by a reversing car he had just been a passenger in.
LYNKIN COCHRANE-YORKE, 19 months,
Died November 2, 2008, at his Kaikohe home after being hit by a reversing van driven by his father.
JASON BAXTER-SCHRODER, 3
Died January 25, 2009, at Wairau Hospital, Blenheim, from head injuries. Jason was riding a scooter along the footpath when hit by a car backing out of a driveway.
MALE, 18 months
Died February 8, 2009, at home in Taranaki. The coroner prohibited publication of identifying details.
TYREESE MEWBURN, 19 months
Died March 6, 2009, at his home in Napier from head injuries. Tyreese followed a relative out of the house and was hit by that person reversing.
ISABELLA THOMPSON, 19 months
Died November 2, 2009, at her home in Whatawhata from head injuries. Isabella waved goodbye to her father then slipped and fell under the wheels of his departing van.
ARIANA SYKES, 18 months
Died December 10, 2009, at Middle-more Hospital from head injuries after being run over in the driveway of her Papatoetoe home by her father.
JAZMHYN LEIATAUA, 2
Died December 21, 2009, from head injuries at home in Mangere. She was outside while her mother cleared out the boot of the car when the handbrake was accidentally released and the vehicle rolled backwards and killed her.
LUDAHVICK GRANT, 2
Died March 22, 2010, at Wairoa Hospital from crush injuries to his abdomen. Ludahvick was hit at home by a visitor reversing down the driveway.
JOSEPH BARRETT, 2
Died November 26, 2010 at Starship Hospital from head injuries, six days after his father reversed over him at their Gisborne home.
When backing, check for pets
Children are not the only ones at risk of being run over around the home. Pets are also victims.
Director of Massey University veterinary teaching hospital, Janet Molyneux says she frequently sees pets who have been crushed by cars driven by their owners.
"Any injury to any pet is really traumatic for people, but these ones people find particularly hard because they feel a huge responsibility for it," says Molyneux. Dogs are most likely to be bowled by their owners either because drivers don't see them or the animal is slow to get out of the way. Molyneux says there are reports of dogs being so excited to see their returning owner that they run into the path of oncoming vehicles.
Barista Hans Pronk was a passenger in a car when the owner reversed over her border collie. "She was distraught," says Pronk. The dog was old and too slow to move out of the way. Pronk and his friend scooped up the injured dog and drove around desperately looking for a vet, to no avail. The dog was badly crushed and died.
Cats are less likely to suffer injury as they are more cautious and move quicker. However, when cats become old and deaf, the risk of run overs increases.
Depending on the severity of the injuries, vets can restore crushed animals to health. Molyneux has repaired ruptured bladders and broken pelvises left behind by rolling wheels.
Five-year-old Ashton Mewburn had stern advice for his mother, Valeria Tokoar, as the pair walked across a carpark this week.