Updated: Jun 1
Driveways are often a hive of activity around our homes – they are where we get ready to head off and start our day at work, school or kindergarten, wash our cars, begin our family road trips and welcome and say goodbye to visitors. However, they are also a particularly dangerous place for children.
On average, every year 7 children aged 0-14 years are killed and 60 are seriously injured due to driveway run-over incidents in Australia – that’s one child every week.
True family stories
The families of Seth and Pippa know firsthand the impact that these incidents can have. They have joined us to bravely share their stories in the hope that no other family has to experience what they have gone through.
Seth's story: It was January 27th 2019, one of those hot summer days where children are running under sprinklers, air conditioners are whirring and you can’t wait for that cool change to come in.
Jayde and her 4 children aged 7, 5, Seth who was 19 months old and a 6-month-old baby, had been cooped up inside most of the day, so when the children were begging to go outside and play with the hose, Jayde thought it was the perfect opportunity to also clean the car.
“My fiancé Brendon had been out fishing with my brother-in-law so it was just me and the 4 kids at home. We headed outside where I put 6-month-old Patrick in the baby bouncer, the older two kids did their own thing and Sethy went between drawing with me and washing my car with the hose. They all looked so happy to be outside playing in the water.” Shared Jayde Seth's mum.
Brendon arrived home and parked his Ute on the road with his boat. As they needed some shopping from the supermarket, he suggested he would take their other car that was parked on the nature strip so he didn’t have to unhook the boat.
In a split second, everything changed.
At that time, Seth had walked up into the carport with his little red bucket and Jayde was happy that she knew he was away from the moving car and heading towards the backyard. She continued to draw some chalk pictures on the ground for the children. In that split second, Seth must have noticed his Daddy walking towards the car and decided to follow him.
“As Brendon reversed the ute off the gutter he abruptly stopped and got out of the car. I ran straight over to see why he had stopped and I immediately said where’s Seth?! Brendon went into instant shock as we saw the little red bucket on the ground.”
As Jayde ran over to the back of the car she could see Seth under the wheel. She grabbed him, screamed for him to wake and started CPR. Seth was limp and with no signs of life. Jayde continued to try and save him while they waited for the ambulance to arrive.
As the paramedics worked on Seth, Jayde was hopeful they would save her little boy but devastatingly, this wasn’t to be.
I'll never forget the words from the paramedic
“They said, I’m sorry but Seth is gone. My life flashed before my eyes and I then went into shock, everything went blurry and into slow motion. I ran over to Seth as they covered him up with white towels. As I lay beside my baby crying and screaming for him to please wake up, don’t leave me, the police officers had taped off my house. It didn’t seem real.”
Pippa's story: The lead-up to Christmas is a special time for families. Planning presents, and family get-togethers and Eve and her family loved their Christmas shopping trips to the city. Watching their precious little 14-month-old in her frilly pink dress, mesmerised by the beautiful decorations in the Myer window; Eve and her Mum felt so content.
“By the time we got home, we ditched our plans for the night and my husband brought home fish and chips for dinner. We live on 10 acres and have a long driveway and, at that time, a roundabout with a fenced area inside it with a playground for the girls to safely play in.” shared Eve, Pippa’s Mum.
I watched her like a hawk to make sure she was safe
Eve’s husband Adrian had parked his truck directly between the house and the play area and put on music from the truck whilst they ate. Eve asked him to move the truck so they could continue to sit where they were eating and also be able to watch the kids play in the playground safely. This was a regular routine for this loving family. Eve held Pippa’s hand and Sophie stood safely in the play area.
“My husband moved his truck to our skip bin to put some rubbish in it. The car stopped and Sophie ran to him. I let go of Pippa’s hand so she could go to him too. The music was still loud but I figured that he was picking up Sophie. I kept my eyes on Pippa the whole time to make sure she was safe. I assumed he wasn’t going to move the truck again and he assumed I still held Pippa’s hand. I had no feeling anything was wrong until the brake lights came on the back of his truck…”
There was no way it could have seen her.
Eve had thought that her husband was leaving the ute there for them to listen to the music.
Pippa was standing right in front of the truck. There was no way he could have seen her.
“I jumped up instantly and ran straight to her whilst the vehicle inched forward. I watched while it tipped her over and only her head fell directly under his front tire. She died instantly. I got to the truck and banged and yelled for him to stop. I reached under the vehicle to pick her up..”
Adrian called the ambulance as Eve tried to resuscitate their little girl. The Police and Paramedics arrived but devastatingly, it was too late. Pippa lost her life, at just 14 months old.
Low-speed run-overs can happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime – from the driveway at home to a work site or factory, in a quiet cul-de-sac street, in a caravan park, or in a busy shopping centre car park.
It can happen in a split second and can change lives forever. Children’s unpredictability, their inquisitive nature and the fact that they are surprisingly quick and mobile places them at increased risk.
Most driveway accidents occur in the driveway of the child’s own home, or in a friend or relative’s driveway. The driver is usually a parent, relative or family friend. In 85% of cases, the driver does not know that a child is close to the vehicle; they think they are being looked after elsewhere. All cars have a blind spot – some up to more than 15 meters behind the vehicle – which can make it difficult to see a child. This means that any car can be involved in a driveway run-over, not just larger vehicles such as four-wheel drives, vans and trucks.
Make your driveway kid-safe
Supervise – always supervise children in and around the driveway. Hold their hand or hold them close to keep them safe
Separate – separate play areas from driveways and garages where possible. This can include fitting high handles to garage doors, installing fences to separate the house and garden from the driveway, and installing self-closing doors and gates.
See – all vehicles have a large blind spot behind them, some extending back as far as 15 metres. Reversing sensors and cameras can assist with reducing blind spots, however, they should never be relied upon to keep kids safe. It’s a good idea for drivers to get into the habit of walking around their vehicle before getting into it when leaving an area where a young child is present.
For more information, please view Kidsafe’s driveway safety video and resources
This article was written by our Safety Experts Kidsafe, thank you to Seth and Eve's parents for sharing their stories to help other parents understand the importance of driveaway safety.
To learn more, book into our FREE Baby First Aid & Saftey Basics Masterclass.