Everyone at some point in their life will see a child near a road and automatically switch on their cautious driving habits. Driving through a school zone can be stressful at peak hour, but most people don’t necessarily think of how unsafe it is on their own street, or even driveway. I wouldn’t blame you for being taken aback over this warning, because when do you ever think anything horrible can happen on your own front lawn. In fact the 2012 National Road Safety Forum focused on driveway safety to reinforce the message that you can never be too careful or too alert. In 2016 there were 18 million motor vehicles on Australian roads and of that, 1,300 people were victims of fatal crashes.
Just being another statistic is quite off-putting, and it should be of the highest priority to protect those who can’t protect themselves by educating yourself and others on driveway safety.
On average, seven children are killed each year by a motor vehicle at home. Of those killed, 90% are under five years old. In most cases, the vehicle is only moving slowly and driven by someone known to the victim. Approximately 60 children are seriously injured after being hit or run over at home and 70% of those are also under five. This really just proves that you can’t take your eyes off them, especially when someone is reversing.
Blind spots are notorious for being avoided when in a hurry and in a familiar area, so make sure you take the time to look before you drive just like you would on the road because you never know who is roaming around.
It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to keep an eye on the road and surrounding areas when children are around. You may be saying goodbye and put the car into reverse and without even knowing, a child could have disappeared from a safe zone to being right behind the car. Make sure you check your mirrors and stay alert for voices that may be closer than you think. When you are leaving a driveway, make sure there is an adult outside with the children keeping an eye on them and ensuring they do not run off when you plan to take your foot off the brake.
You must also not hold complete faith in those convenient reversing cameras. The television ads may say they are essential to drivers with kids who play outside, but even reversing cameras have blind spots. They sure are handy, but remember they aren’t a substitute to knowing exactly the children’s whereabouts.
If you happen to be the adult out of the car, make sure you are always supervising them when a vehicle is being moved. Even hold onto their hand to make sure they can’t do a quick disappearing act. In fact, if you find yourself to be the only adult around and needing to move the car, secure the kids in the vehicle for the time you are behind the wheel. You can also adopt the NSW Government’s simple steps for a safe area. They suggest you:
- Supervise – you should actively supervise the children around the driveway at all times.
- Separate – treat the driveway like a road and don’t encourage the children to use it as a play area.
- See – don’t be complacent and actively look around the vehicle and don’t automatically reverse as someone could be hiding and not be aware of the car moving.
Also, make sure you teach your children the importance of driveway safety and to not play near cars. Avoiding those areas will create a habit and the children should eventually learn it is a banned space when they are not with an adult.
So go out and test your car for its blind spots and be aware of them when you are driving around children. It could be the difference between a hospital trip and a quiet dinner at home with not a care in the world.
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