Driveways unsafe: surgeon

Governments must act to reduce the incidence of vehicles backing over children in home driveways, an Australian trauma surgeon said yesterday.

Feilim Murphy, a surgical registrar at Perth’s Princess Margaret Hospital, said such accidents were far more prevalent in Australia and New Zealand than other Western countries because residential properties were usually larger and the driveways longer.

Dr Murphy told the Royal Australian College of Surgeons conference in Adelaide that research showed two-year-old children were the most common victims of driveway accidents, and the car was usually driven by their own parents.

“This is not an accident that occurs in Europe,” he said. “It occurs occasionally in the United States, but not to the same extent.”

He said that often the driver of the vehicle had seen the child moments before reversing, but the child had darted behind the car as it started moving.

Dr Murphy said driver caution could prevent only a limited number of accidents, and legislation requiring driveways to be fenced off was needed.

“Encouragement is all well and good, but we feel that legislation is a step that would be very helpful,” he said.

“We’ve found the majority of accidents tend to occur in rental accommodation – government-owned or rented by private individuals.

”I think the very first step would be rented properties would be required to have fencing on their driveway.”

Dr Murphy predicted a three-fold reduction in such accidents if legislation requiring fencing was introduced.


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