Not all car accidents involving children occur on the road.
RoSPA research shows that at least 39 children have been killed on, or near, the driveways of their home since 2001. Twenty eight of these accidents have occurred since 2008.
Tragically, in most of these cases, an adult member of the child's family, a neighbour or a visitor to the house was driving the vehicle.
- Most (25) of the deaths occurred when a child was hit by a reversing vehicle
- In three cases, the vehicle rolled back after the handbrake was accidentally released
- Most of the victims were toddlers aged between one and two; the rest were three to seven years old.
It is also important to remember that cars are not a safe place for children to play. Children should never be left alone inside a vehicle, even when the engine is switched off. Electric windows, choking and fire hazards in cars have all proved fatal to small children.
Our research showed that a disturbingly high proportion (63%) of parents surveyed sometimes left children inside the car while they made a quick call to somewhere like a shop or school.
Are children there? Be Aware!
Supported by donations, RoSPA has been working to raise awareness of the dangers among the parents, carers and grandparents of young children. We have worked with families of victims to develop a poster and information leaflet to spread awareness.
What can you do?
As every parent knows, young children can easily escape your supervision for a short time and get into difficulties before you even realise they have moved. It's a good idea to educate children so that they know not to play in or around parked cars.
Be aware of the risks of children running out to greet or wave goodbye to visitors while vehicles are still manoeuvring.
Remember that drivers in larger vehicles, such as 4x4's and pick-up trucks, may be less able to see small children who are close to the vehicle's bumpers.
When a car is being reversed off a driveway, the driver has a limited view - small children may not be visible in the mirrors. Where possible, it is better to reverse onto a driveway, and drive off forwards.
If this is not possible, remember to be aware of your surroundings and where children are – wind down your windows and, being mindful of your blind spots, proceed slowly as you reverse.
Park in Gear (PING)
When parking on a slope, always park in gear and turn the wheel so that if the car moved, it would be stopped by the kerb or something similar.
- Parked facing uphill – use a forward gear and turn the steering wheel away from the kerb
- Parked facing downhill – use a reverse gear and turn the steering wheel towards the kerb
RoSPA conducted a survey, in conjunction with the Iain Goodwill Trust in 2010 which found that out of 284 parents who responded, the majority were unaware of the potential for an accident involving their children and a car at home.
One of the main issues identified was that parents and carers do not think an accident will happen to their family, unless they know someone who has already experienced one, meaning they do not take simple precautions.
Of those who took part in the survey:
- 59% could recall a time when their child had followed them out of the house on to the driveway without them realising
- 22% had started to manoeuvre a vehicle on the driveway and realised their child was close to the car when they thought they were elsewhere
- 95% reported temporarily leaving their children unattended in the car on the driveway while they "dashed back into the house" for something
- 42% said their children had picked up the family car keys without being seen to do so.
However, 68% believed it was unlikely that their child would ever be injured by a vehicle entering or leaving their driveway. And 83% believed it was unlikely their child would ever be injured by a vehicle parked on their driveway.
The full report of the survey is available to download in the sidebar. If you have a personal story you would like to share as part of our campaigning work, please contact us using the details below.