Herald Sun - Friday 28 October, 2005

Driveways dangerous to children

By Shelley Hodgson
FIVE children have died in car accidents on Victorian driveways in four years.
Many more have been injured in the way 19-month-old Andie Kearns was accidentally injured by her father -- former Wallaby rugby union captain Phil Kearns on Saturday.

The Pedestrian Council of Australia believes the real picture could even be worse than the statistics reveal.

From July 2002 to June last year, 22 children were treated in hospital after being hit by cars in driveways, according to Victorian Injury Surveillance and Applied Research.

Of those, 16 were under four and seven had head injuries.

One was in hospital for more than eight days.

The Victorian child killed this year, died when a truck ran over her while leaving a car park outside her parents' milkbar home, according to police. Two children died in home driveways in 2002 and in 2003.

In the past 10 years, 1995 was the worst for Victorian driveway deaths, with five children being killed, according to the Consultative Council on Obstetric and Paediatric Mortality and Morbidity.

A 2002 Australian Transport Safety Bureau report found that on average 12 children died each year across the country from car accidents in driveways.

The report into 36 deaths from 1996 to 1998, found that most of the accidents happened at the child's home.

Most victims were toddlers, most drivers were men who were a family member or a family friend and most involved large vehicles such as four-wheel-drive passenger vehicles, large utes, delivery vans or heavy trucks.

Pedestrian Council of Australia chairman Harold Scruby, who is a neighbour of Kearns, said he believed more had to be done to collect data on driveway deaths.

"They are happening with monotonous regularity," Mr Scruby said.

"The injuries would be significant and very expensive to the community."

Mr Scruby urged parents not to move their cars until they know where their children are, consider constructing their driveway to minimise the chance of children being struck, avoid driving large vehicles and buy camera sensors.

"It's a tragedy of all tragedies -- the thought of driving over your own child," Mr Scruby said.

He called for more education campaigns.

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