Every year in New Zealand, around 17 children are hospitalised as a result of being hit by a car in a driveway. Read Safekids Aotearoa’s tips on how to make the driveway safer for your family.
Jumping in the car and reversing out of the driveway is a pretty ordinary activity for most families, but it’s also one of the most dangerous parts of the day.
Driveway and garage accidents involving tamariki under the age of five happen all too often.
Keeping families safe around the garage and driveway is a top priority for Merlin. We are always striving to understand how garage and driveway injuries occur, and what we can do to help prevent them.
- Tell us about Safekids Aotearoa
Safekids Aotearoa is the unintentional child injury service of Starship Child Health.
We develop and implement initiatives based on international research, local knowledge and mātauranga (Indigenous knowledge), to help keep tamariki safe from serious injuries like falls, drowning and incidents on the road.
- What are the risks/factors that contribute to driveway runovers?
Small children, particularly those under two years of age are at the most risk. This is because vehicles often have blind zones, and it can be very difficult to see a small child from the driver’s seat. Young children also become mobile very quickly, so it’s very easy for them to slip through an open door or gate and put themselves in the path of a moving vehicle.
Spring and summer are danger months for driveway runovers, with the warmer weather meaning more tamariki outside and doors left open. It’s extremely important to ensure children are always supervised around the driveway and garage when playing outside.
- How important is it to make high-risk areas at home such as the driveway safer?
Around 17 tamariki are hospitalised and tragically four die each year as a result of a driveway runover. Injuries from driveway runovers are preventable, so it’s important that parents and carers take significant steps to prevent driveway runovers to protect their tamariki.
- How can whānau prevent driveway runovers or garage-related injury?
As tamariki grow, driveway and garage protection prevention messaging changes.
For tamariki under the age of one, keep them well away from driveways and garages – they shouldn’t think of them as play areas. Know where the little ones are at all times, checking around your vehicle before getting in.
Once tamariki are over the age of one, they start to become more mobile and are small enough to not always be seen by mirrors and reversing cameras, fence the garage and driveway off from the main play area. By making it difficult for children to access the driveway, you are prioritising their safety.
For three to four-year-olds, curiosity is starting to grow. Instilling good safety habits early is key, such as if you are around cars – ensure that you hold your child’s hand and keep them close. It’s also important to decide on a designated safe area and teach children to wait there when a vehicle is leaving the garage and exiting the driveway.
Older children such as pre-teens are starting to grow more independent and spend more time in play without adult supervision. They explore their surroundings independently and with growing confidence. Make sure to continue to communicate to them about the dangers of the garage and driveway and the importance of keeping these areas clear of toys and objects.
- What are the key safety messages to promote to parents and carers in high-risk areas such as the driveway?
The most important thing any parent or caregiver can do is ‘Check for me before you turn the key’. Watch our video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YAw-oF2yJl4&t=1s to learn how the Seuseu family keep their children safe around the driveway.
By following the three steps below, we can help prevent unintentional injury and accidents around the driveway.
- CHECK for children by walking around the whole vehicle and looking underneath before driving off.
- SUPERVISE children around vehicles – always.
- SEPARATE play areas from driveways and garages.
Thank you to Safekids Aotearoa for taking the time to educate us on the importance of garage and driveway safety!
To learn more about Safekids Aotearoa, visit www.starship.org.nz/safekids.
You can read more about garage and driveway safety in the Merlin at www.gomerlin.com.nz/garagesafety.