On Sunday, 18 January 2015, a 13-month-old baby girl was run over by a vehicle reversing into the garage in a driveway in Engadine, NSW. The vehicle was believed to have
been driven by the girl’s father, who had just finished washing the car and was moving it back into the garage when the accident took place. According to reports, Emergency services were called to the house just before 2pm on Sunday, where they found the injured baby. The baby girl was flown to The Children’s Hospital at Westmead where she is now in a serious but stable condition.
Writing the facts about this tragic incident right now, I have tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat. Because, as a parent, this tragic event hits home. It reminds us how life can change in a matter of a second.
But, sadly, this is not an uncommon story to report on. In April this year, marks the four year anniversary of the tragic death of Georgina Cockburn. Peter and Emma Cockburn tragically lost their baby daughter, at 15 months old. Peter, a builder was coming home from work and was reversing his builders trailer into the garage of the family home when tragedy struck. Their life, as they knew it, was changed forever.
“We want people to be inspired to change, not to think we are brave.” Peter Cockburn
“We can’t improve the situation for us, but we can try to make it better for other people.” Peter Cockburn
These two little girls are just two of the many young children who have been killed over the years in driveway related accidents.
Just because you are at home, in a quiet driveway or even on a safe street, accidents happen. And they can be life altering.
According to DrivewaySafety.nsw.gov.au a NSW Government website designed to help others understand the importance of driveway safety, 50 children are killed or seriously injured in driveway related accidents in Australia each year. In NSW alone there were six deaths due to driveway related accidents last year. Between 2002 and 2011, the number of deaths of young children in NSW due to driveway accidents was a tragic 16.
I’m sure all parents reading this will agree that accidents like this need to be prevented in any way possible. So how can we help?
Driveway Safety | Supervise, Separate, See
www.drivewaysafety.nsw.gov.au is a Government supported site designed to help parents, care-givers, homeowners and drivers of all ages ensure that they are not putting anyone at risk of a driveway accident. Please take the time to visit this site to learn more about what we can do as a society to stop these accidents from happening.
Reducing the Risk of Unintentional Injury or Death in Driveway Accidents
You never know when someone may be pulling in, reversing out, arriving home or leaving. You never know when a small child may run out of the driveway, out of a parking lot and across the street, whether to fetch a ball, to greet a neighbour or to catch up to Dad. It doesn’t matter how good a driver you may be – accidents happen.
And simple steps can make all the difference:
- SUPERVISE children near vehicles.
- SEPARATE play areas from driveways.
- SEE where they are at all times.
Regardless of whether you are driving into the driveway, backing out of the driveway or driving to a friend’s place, take the time to check every blind spot. Invest in reverse cameras if you can. Leave a few minutes early so you are not in a rush and therefore have the time to check every mirror before you go. And when you are at home with your children, supervise them at all times. Teach them about driveway safety and about the importance of remaining off the street and off the driveway.
It is not as simple as this, I know. Kids can run outside in the blink of an eye. A Post Office worker can drop off a parcel at the exact same time your child reaches the driveway. Your child can jump out of the car first at the same time your partner is pulling into the driveway.
I didn’t know Braxton. I didn’t know Thomas. And I don’t personally know any of the other children that have been killed in driveway related accidents over the years. But I do know that accidents like these shatter families, friends, communities and all those involved. As a mum it’s stories like this that make me hug my children a little tighter at night and promise myself that no matter what, I will protect them.
Accidents happen. But hopefully, with a bit of awareness, we can all do our part to ensure driveway related accidents happen a lot less often.
For more information on driveway safety, please visit www.drivewaysafety.nsw.gov.au
Cover: Baron Squrirel https://www.flickr.com/photos/baronsquirrel/