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Housing New Zealand congratulated on safe driveway award

Child & Youth Mortality Review Committee
05 November 2013

The Health Quality & Safety Commission congratulates Housing New Zealand for its award-winning work on improving the safety of the driveways in its houses. Housing New Zealand has taken out the trophy for leading innovation in social housing provision at the Australasian Housing Institute Awards.

Commission Chair Professor Alan Merry says Housing New Zealand, with the support of Safekids Aotearoa, has prioritised raising awareness of driveway safety and taken action to make houses safer.

“Tragically, New Zealand has a very high incidence of child driveway run-overs. About five children die because of low speed run-overs in New Zealand each year – and most of these deaths happen on the driveways of their own home. For every child that dies about another twelve are injured, some very seriously with brain injury or life-long spinal injury.

“I would particularly like to commend the Driveway Safety Checklist developed by Housing New Zealand as part of its Driveway Safety Project as a valuable tool that could be used widely to reduce driveway risks and help make play spaces safer.

“I would also like to acknowledge the Child and Youth Mortality Review Committee (CYMRC), which works under the umbrella of the Commission, for its 2011 report Low Speed Run Over Mortality. This report examined deaths from low speed run-overs and ways of preventing them and greatly raised awareness of this issue.”

CYMRC Chair Dr Nick Baker says the New Zealand post-war bungalow with a big lawn and a long driveway poses one of the greatest risks to small children.

“Families need to understand how quickly a child can move from a place of safety to a place of danger. All vehicles are a major risk as they have extensive blind areas around them. 

“Traditional long driveways, with a garage next to the house, shared driveways and unfenced drives which are used as play spaces and play spaces used for driving are a very dangerous mixture.

“It is terrifying how much damage a vehicle can do to a child in the blink of an eye. Children are just not seen by drivers so they must be separated from driving spaces and supervised.”

Dr Baker says the Driveway Safety Project focuses on separating driveways from play areas by installing fencing with self-closing gates, and reducing vehicle speed on driveways with speed humps and signage.

“Congratulations to Housing New Zealand for its strong leadership and commitment towards improving the safety of driveways and the wellbeing of New Zealand children. Having more children growing up with opportunities for safe outdoor play as well as reducing injuries has enormous benefits for healthy development.”

Driveway Safety Checklist

  • Does the property have a fenced, outdoor play area
  • Is the play area separated from the driveway?
  • Are vehicles prevented from accessing the play area?
  • Is the play area directly accessible from the dwelling?
  • Is the play area directly visible from the dwelling?
  • Is the fencing complete and secure?
  • Is the fencing of a design that discourages climbing by children under 5?
  • If there is a fenced play area, what is the fence height?
  • Is the fence see-through?
  • Does the play area have a pedestrian gate?
  • Is the gate secured with a functioning, child-resistant latch?
  • How many units share driveways?
  • Are there any traffic safety signs?
  • Are there any traffic speed controls (such as speed humps?).

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