April 2003, the Australian Transport Safety Board (ATSB) released
a study on young children who died as a result of low-speed motor
vehicle impacts. Tragically, these incidents mostly occurred at
the child's home and involved a driver who was a family member or
fatalities averaged 12 annually throughout Australia during the
study period, with some year-to-year variation. There were 17 deaths
in 1996, ten in 1997 and nine in 1998.
of the victims were young toddlers - old enough to move quickly,
but too small for the driver to see easily when they were close
to the vehicle. Most of the vehicles were large 4WD passenger vehicles,
large utility vehicles, delivery vans or heavy trucks. Most often,
the child had followed an adult out of the house without being seen.
a result of its study, the ATSB has launched a safety campaign to
give the public a few simple safety precautions that could prevent
supervise children whenever a vehicle is to be moved. Hold their
hands or hold them close to keep them safe.
you're the only adult at home and need to move a vehicle, even
only a small distance, place children securely in the vehicle
while you move it.
the driveway as a small road. Discourage children from using it
as a play area.
access to the driveway from the house difficult for a child. Consider
using security doors, fencing or gates.
and Cars, an American non-profit organization that collects
statistics on backover incidents from public records, says that
in 2002 at least 58 children died in the US as a result of being
backed over by a motor vehicle. According to Kids and Cars,
over 80 per cent of the victims are under four years of age, and
a parent or close relative is behind the wheel in about 60 per cent
of the cases.
are no official Canadian statistics on low-impact vehicle collisions
that do not occur in traffic. However, the Canadian Hospitals Injury
Reporting and Prevention Program (CHIRPP) of Health Canada helps
quantify the issue. CHIRPP tracks visits to emergency departments
at 10 children's hospitals and five general hospitals across the
CHIRPP database recorded 237 injuries in driveways from 1990 to
1998. Of these, close to half (110) were age four and younger. In
more than half (125) of the total cases, the injured child was standing
beside or behind the vehicle and the driver drove over the child.
The highest number of driveway injuries were seen during the summer
(39 per cent), with spring a close second (31 per cent).
CHIRPP report, based on 1996-98 data, found that one-quarter of
those injured by vehicles backing up (28 out of 107) were aged two
to four years. However, 62 per cent of the hospital admissions were
under age five, indicating that more younger children suffered serious
situation in North America seems to be similar to that in Australia,
and the same precautions are in order.
for the Blind Spot
new vehicles offer sensors that detect unseen obstacles behind the
vehicle. For example, the General Motors Ultrasonic Parking
Assist System senses objects behind the vehicle as it reverses.
The system sounds a warning tone and illuminates a lamp that is
colour coded for proximity above the rear window, which is visible
in the rear view mirror, as you move close to the object. GM says
the system may detect a stationary or moving child, but potentially
not in every case. This type of device is only an aid - not a replacement
for driver vigilance. Manufacturers are working on rear-facing radar
systems which would sense moving objects but these are not yet on
you have a larger vehicle, the Canada Safety Council suggests adding
devices such as extra mirrors to reduce the size of your blind spot.
Another way to minimize the backing hazard is to back into your
driveway so you go forward to drive out. And always back up slowly
- never faster than a child's walking pace.