NZ’s driveway toll among the worst

New Zealand has one of the worst records in the world for maiming or killing children by running over them in driveways, says a researcher.

Child safety lobbyists have asked the Government to fence the driveways of state houses and flats because children in poor neighbourhoods and rented housing are among those at greatest risk.

Feilim Murphy, a trauma surgeon who researched the problem while at the Starship hospital in Auckland, has told a medical conference in Adelaide that “driveway runovers” are far more prevalent in Australia and New Zealand than other Western countries.

Dr Murphy and his fellow researchers looked at 77 children hit in driveway accidents over three years.

Five died and 11 per cent were maimed or suffered other long-term complications.

“I believe this is the highest rate in the world for these types of accidents,” he said.

Dr Murphy, now at Princess Margaret Hospital in Perth, said research showed 2-year-old children were the victims of most driveway accidents.

“It’s usually in your own driveway, and with a father or mother driving the car,” he told the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons conference.

Eighty per cent of children in the study lived in rental accommodation, and half were in Housing New Zealand properties.

In Auckland, John Wren, senior analyst for Safekids, the child safety service of the Starship, said the organisation had already told Housing New Zealand that all the driveways of its properties should be fenced.

The same requirements should be imposed on council rental housing, he said.

This would provide credible statistics that would give a basis for extending the requirement to every residential property with a driveway.

The Starship study showed that 25 per cent of pedestrian injuries in Auckland between 1998 and last year occurred in residential driveways.

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