The Age - Monday 24 October, 2005

Accident sparks safety push

THE car accident that left the daughter of former Wallaby skipper Phil Kearns with life-threatening injuries has reignited demands for upgraded safety on four-wheel-drives.

Nineteen-month-old Andie Kearns remains on a respirator in a critical but stable condition in a Sydney hospital after she was accidentally run over by her father in the driveway of the family home on Saturday.

Mr Kearns had been reversing his Volkswagen Touareg four-wheel-drive at the Mosman house on Sydney's north shore when the accident happened.

In a statement released last night, Mr Kearns said Andie was doing better than had been hoped and thanked the public for their support.

"My wife and I are overwhelmed. It has been just amazing," he said. "(Andie) is holding up really well. She . is much better than she was yesterday."

Pedestrian Council of Australia chairman Harold Scruby said yesterday the Federal Government should make it compulsory for four-wheel-drives to have reversing cameras fitted.

"They're (4WDs) extremely dangerous, lethal even, and you can't see little children below the guard," he said.

Mr Scruby, who lives two doors from the Kearns family, said 30 Australian toddlers died each year in driveway accidents, with a further 300 injured.

More than two-thirds of the accidents involved four-wheel-drives.

The cameras, currently fitted in Lexus cars, screen footage from the rear bumper in the rear-vision mirror when the vehicle is in reverse.

Mr Scruby said rear-bumper sensors were not sensitive enough to detect small children and the reverse-beeping mechanism was relatively ineffective with toddlers.

Andie is the youngest child of the former Wallabies captain and his wife, Julie. The couple have three other children.

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