Improving driveway safety is important to ensure the protection of our tamariki. Every year, an average of 17 hospitalisations and approximately 4 children lose their lives in preventable driveway accidents. Tragically, these incidents often involve the child’s parent or family members. In this article, we will outline key steps for preventing driveway injuries and creating a safer home for our whānau. Keeping tamariki safe around vehicles is incredibly important.
Understanding driveway accidents
The majority of driveway accidents to tamariki take place either in their own whare, or home, or a whare of a friend or relative. Long or shared driveways tend to pose a higher risk to tamariki.
The most common season for driveway accidents is summer, as children are more likely to play outdoors during this time. Additionally, around meal times are the most common time of day for incidents. This is becuase tamariki are more likely to be out playing while motukā, or cars, are moving in and out of driveways.
Checking Before Driving
A quick check before you drive anywhere is the first and easiest step you can take. Before driving off, thoroughly check for children around your vehicle. Reversing cameras and detectors are helpful parking aids but they still have blind spots and may not detect objects or individuals beneath the vehicle. Using your eyes is a safer check than using a screen. Therefore, we recommend you physically inspect the area around your car before setting off, even if you have a reversing camera.
Supervision Around Vehicles
Whenever tamariki are near motukā, it is important to keep an eye on them. Tamariki should never be left alone near a moving vehicle. If you need to move your car while your child is nearby, even if just for a short distance, either ensure they are safely inside your home or take them in the car with you.
Separating Play Areas
To keep tamariki safe, never let them play in the driveway. Keep play areas and driveways clearly separate. We don’t want our tamariki to think it is safe to play around cars. If your outdoor play area is connected to the driveway, consider building a fence to create a distinct barrier. We also recommend any gates and fences are equipped with child restraints and secure latches.
Educating Older Children
Educating our children is a great way to keep them safe. From an early age, teach tamariki that cars can be dangerous, and driveways and roads are not suitable play areas.
As your child grows and becomes more independent, especially during playtime, it is important to teach them about the dangers surrounding motukā.
Teach tamariki to wait in a safe spot whenever there is a moving vehicle. This safe spot should be well away from the path of the vehicle, and visible to the driver so that they are aware of everyone's location.
Responding to Accidents
In the unfortunate event of a child being struck by a vehicle, dial 111 immediately.
This is especially important if tamariki are in pain, unconscious, dizzy, is experiencing breathing difficulties, or are bleeding. If a child is unconsciousness or having breathing problems, administer CPR while waiting for medical assistance, ensuring continuous effort until professional help arrives.