Abandoning the four-wheel drive to help prevent driveway fatalities

Jodi - posted on 04/02/2011 ( 22 moms have responded )

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Abandoning the four-wheel drive as the family car would help prevent driveway fatalities, a children's safety group says.

Of the 13 children involved in driveway-related fatalities in Victoria since 2000, 10 were killed by a 4WD or truck, figures released by the Coroners Court show.

Even more alarmingly, since December there have been three driveway deaths in Victoria. In the most recent case a one-year-old boy was struck by his father's Audi 4WD when he went to retrieve a toy that rolled under the car at Hillside on February 15.

Kidsafe Australia president Mark Stokes said driveway fatalities were easy to prevent and one step in doing this was abandoning the 4WD as the family car.

"We don't like them one bit. They are more dangerous on the road for the people they hit. They are more dangerous on the road for the people in them when they hit things," Dr Stokes said.

Dr Stokes said many parents were buying 4WDs under the mistaken assumption that they were safer, but the driveway fatality figures backed Kidsafe's belief that they were not.

"Parents are buying these cars because they think they are safer and what they do is they end up killing their own children with them," he said.

He suggested station wagons were a much safer option for families.

The figures also showed children aged between one and three accounted for 69 per cent of child driveway deaths.

Road policing strategy group Acting Inspector John Gibson said drivers of large cars with small children needed to be extra vigilant.

"We know that small children are often difficult to see if you are in a large vehicle and we also know that the implications of children being injured as a result of being hit by a vehicle are much more likely to be fatal because they are so small and fragile," he said.

Many of the driveway deaths also occurred during busy periods of the day when families were leaving the house for school and work or in the evening when they were returning home.

A group made up of Victoria Police, the Coroners Prevention Unit and other agencies have released a set of safety tips for families around driveways.

The safety tips include:

Where possible separate children's play areas from driveways with fences and self-closing gates.

Always lock vehicles to prevent children from playing in them.

If you're the only adult at home and need to move a car, place children securely in the vehicle while you move it.

Toyota, which sold more than 50,000 SUVs in Australia last year, said it expected motorists to drive safely.

"Toyota Australia would expect drivers, regardless of the vehicle they are driving, to obey all road safety rules and practice safe driving whether on public roads or private property," a company spokesperson said in a statement.

Reverse cameras and sensors are fitted on some of Toyota's 4WD models but are not standard on the popular Prado and Rav4 vehicles.

The manufacturer, however, is in the process of including the technology in its entire range.

http://au.news.yahoo.com/latest/a/-/late...

So, is this REALLY a 4WD issue, or is it about supervision of your child? Whenever I hear about these incidents of a child being run over by a parent in their drive way I quite honestly question who the heck was supervising the child? How is this any different to a van or a station wagon?

Your thoughts?

22 Comments

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[deleted account]

I ALWAYS question "where was the parent?" when any child is hit or run over by a car or even kidnapped out of their yard. Especially the younger ones or even the toddlers. ggrrrrrrrrr...............

Stifler's - posted on 04/02/2011

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Yeah I can see less out of my Commodore sedan than the landcruiser wagon. I think it's the fact that more people with kids have them than other kinds of cars too. Of course more accidents are going to involve a more popular car.

[deleted account]

My 1st car was a Commodore station wagon and i could see less out of it then i can out of my Kluger.
I think it comeas down to the parents and knowing where their children are at all times.

Dana - posted on 04/02/2011

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See that's the part that I don't get. There are plenty of small 4WD's so to get rid of them all together...weird.

Jodi - posted on 04/02/2011

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We drove a late model Toyota Prado when we were in New Zealand with the kids, and that thinkg had sensors all over it AND a reversing camera, which basically meant you had the extra vision and the car beeped like crazy if something was too close. From what I gather, these safety options are being put on a lot of the cars now.

I THINK the reason they are blaming the 4WD is that being a bigger vehicle, it is possibly more likely to kill than just injure. I'm not sure. But the kid shouldn't be there in the first place.

Sal - posted on 04/02/2011

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we have a ford territory, we needed the back seat size as we had 2 in full on baby capsual and a 6ft + teen and it was the widest, i do like it but the vision out the back is a bit hard sometimes, but so it the vision out of the back of any car, in my opinion what i think id dangerous are reverse sensors, they make you lazy and think it is safe when it may no be, if they don;t work for what ever reason you are being less cautious and probally going faster, one day when my mum was closing the gate after me i nearly hit her, she had gone to put something in the boot, and where we were in the drive way the sensor always beeped constantly as it was pointing down into a small dip, i didn;t see her and luckily was just rolling up the incline to shut the sensor up and wasn't even excellorating at all , she just stepped out of the way but a child probally wouldn;t of , my husband hit a bit tree stump (about 6ft high) in the yard the sensor didn't sound at all, so there is a huge dint in the back, if there was no sensor he would of been going a little more cautious and probally just scratched it, i think it should be illegal to have a sensor without a camera or not have one at all. alone they aren't that great..but while accidents happen if the kids are supervised then it shouldn;t matter, i put mine in the car or in the house with someone.....

Lady Heather - posted on 04/02/2011

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I have a big 4WD because it's the only way we can get from point A to point B in the winter. Cars get stuck, SUVs don't. I think it's horribly tragic when a parent hits their kid in the driveway and all, but wtf was the kid doing there in the first place? If they are young enough that they don't know to not stand behind a vehicle, then they aren't old enough to be running around unsupervised.

Anyways, the technology is catching up. My mum's Volvo beeps obnoxiously if there's so much as a twig behind it while reversing and some newer SUVs have cameras on the back so you can see.

Rosie - posted on 04/02/2011

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i don't get why a 4WD vehicle would be the culprit here. i wonder what the reasoning is behind why 4WD vehicles are involved in these accidents more. is it because they're usually bigger vehicles?
IMO, int's more of a supervision problem then what type of car problem. you can still kill a child just as easily with a little tiny car.

Amanda - posted on 04/02/2011

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Confused look, but my station wagon is 4w drive, what to do! Oh right, teach my children that the drive way is NOT a playground, and always make sure my children are NO WHERE near my car when I start it up (unless they are IN it).

Jenn - posted on 04/02/2011

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Yeah, I don't get how you can blame the type of vehicle - that makes no sense. We have a 4WD vehicle but it isn't exactly a big beast - it's a GMC Jimmy. I can assure you that I would never run over my child no matter what I drive because I'm aware of my surroundings and use common sense - my kids are NEVER in the driveway or anywhere near it when someone is driving in it.

Mary - posted on 04/02/2011

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I too am of the mindset that these fatalities are not the fault of the SUV. I'm not sure that the father would have been any more aware of his one y/o going under a sedan to retrieve a toy than an SUV. As others have asserted, it's more about knowing where your kids are, and who is watching them.

As to the suggestion that station wagons are a safer alternative.....

http://money.cnn.com/2011/02/15/autos/de...

Thanks, Dr. Stokes, but you need to take that up with the automobile makers of the world. There just aren't that many out there these days. The Ford Grand Torino I grew up in no longer exists. The current options are smaller, with less interior room than SUV's and minivans.

Jodi - posted on 04/02/2011

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But the point is, it is not the 4WD that is the problem, it's the person driving it :)

Dana - posted on 04/02/2011

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That's exactly what I see during the winter, Tara! Drives me nuts because then they are making my life at risk too!

Tara - posted on 04/02/2011

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Yes I agree about people driving like morons in four wheel.
I have to take a major hwy to get to the grocery store, the limit is 100 km/hr. Fine. But in shitty winter weather, when it's down to one sort of cleared lane and one very icy snowy lane, some idiots will throw it into four wheel and pass everyone else, causing snow to fly around and then you see them fish tail and get back in the good lane. lol
Stupid people think 4wd gives them super powers. lol

Dana - posted on 04/02/2011

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Amy, the fact that people drive like idiots because they think they're safer in a 4WD makes sense. Thanks.

Tara - posted on 04/02/2011

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The difference is the size of the vehicle and how high off the ground the rear view mirror is.
This not not excuse the fact that one year old children are being run over by their parents. What is a one year old doing in the driveway without an adult beside them?
I have to drive a 4 wheel drive sometimes, we have a truck and a van, I don't always take the van and in fact we need a new vehicle are considering a SUV or cross over for the fact we need 4 wheel.
The fact it will be higher only makes me more vigilant around the kids. I never back out of the driveway unless I can see all the kids the whole time. Dogs too.
It's about be cautious and expecting that kids might sometimes do dumb kid like things. Be careful when you drive, whether it's a smart car of a Monster truck.

Amy - posted on 04/02/2011

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No matter what kind of vehicle it is, there could be accidents. I think the reason 4wd are dangerous is because some people do not know how to use them on the roads. They think it helps you stop quicker on ice and stuff around here....uh, NO, it doesn't.

In a driveway - that's just parents not knowing where the kids are. Some 4wd may be larger vehicles and therefore make it more difficult to see little bodies, but why are little bodies out there unsupervised?

Child deaths on home property can happen from jsut about anything. Sometimes accidents just happen. Tractor/farm related accidents, 4wd, car, lawn mowers....Just have to really try and be mindful of who's around and keep looking - just because you know where YOUR children are, doen'st mean a neighbor kid might be over.

Dana - posted on 04/02/2011

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I'm just really confused as to why a 4WD car is more dangerous. It's not as if all 4WD cars are large.

[deleted account]

I don't think its the car.I think its the wrong place and so the wrong time.No 4wheel drive in this case or another i also know of.

A very good teacher we had in school, ran over her third child her only daughter.Her husband had brought her in, but she had got back out and ran behind the mothers car as she reversed with her two boys in the car who were going to swimming class.

She died in the drive way.:-( 3 years old.

Stifler's - posted on 04/02/2011

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I think it's no easier to see if anyone's behind you in a normal sedan or station wagon!! It's a supervision issue, always check if there's bikes, kids playing in the street, your own kids are in the house before you reverse down the driveway willy nilly. I think Tracey is right, if they'd been banned we'd be blaming vans or sedans or wagons.

Sneaky - posted on 04/02/2011

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I understand that the majority of driveway deaths are caused by SUV's. BUT if 4-wheel drives were banned years ago, does that mean the majority of those deaths would not have occurred - or would the deaths still have occurred and we would be blaming a different type of car???

For me it IS a supervision issue - you know you have a SUV, you know you can't see anything around the damn thing when you are moving it therefore you do NOT, EVER, move it unless all the kids are strapped in it or all you kids are locked in the house (and I do not just mean shutting the door, I mean LOCKING the door so little ones can not get out). If other adults are at home, you tell them that you are moving the car and to watch the kids. I do these things and I don't even have a four wheel drive - I'm just more interested in not running over my kids than anything else.

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