Alcohol 02

Caution urged around alcohol, children and cars over summer

18 Jan 2012 | Child & Youth Mortality Review Committee

CYMRC operates under the umbrella of the Health Quality & Safety Commission and reviews the deaths of children and young people aged from 28 days to 24 years old.

“Summer’s a time to get out and about, but we need to make sure we keep our children and young people safe around cars and when alcohol is involved,” says CYMRC Chair, Dr Nick Baker.

“Too many children are run over by cars and other vehicles in the driveways of their homes or the homes of friends or relatives, and in summer that risk is increased because more of us are at home and children aren't at school or pre-school.”

A report released by CYMRC last year found that on average four to five children die in driveway accidents in New Zealand each year, and for every child killed by a vehicle moving at low speed, another 12 are hospitalised.

Dr Baker says there are a number of things people can do to keep young children safe around cars over the summer:

·         always ‘count the kids’ before you manoeuvre a vehicle, and make sure they are belted safely in the car or are in a safe place away from the car

·         keep cars locked, windows closed, keys out of the ignition, and don't let children play in vehicles

·         slow down on driveways

·         understand how big the blind area is around your vehicle

·         actively supervise children but also have other ways to keep them safe, such as a fenced off play area

·         teach children to be cautious around vehicles

·         encourage visitors to park on the road instead of in the driveway.

“Accidents can happen so fast with little children and cars,” says Dr Baker. “Taking precautions makes good sense, especially when the kids are out playing on the front lawn and visitors are coming or going from the house. A bit of extra caution will go a long way this summer.”

He also cautions against recklessness with alcohol over the holiday break.

“It’s definitely a case of drinking in moderation so that no one is injured,” he says.

The CYMRC released a report last year on the role of alcohol consumption in the deaths of children and young people. It highlighted the strong contribution of alcohol to the dramatic increase in the rate of death after the age of 15, with many young people becoming victims of their own drinking or the drinking of others.

“The report also highlights that females and younger males most frequently die because of other people’s drinking. This is a very important message for young people who want to keep themselves safe and for parents and caregivers so they can support their young people to stay safe.”

“CYMRC is faced time and time again with deaths and injuries sustained by teenagers who drive while drunk, are harmed by others who are driving while drunk, or who are assaulted either while they are drunk or by an assailant who is intoxicated,” says Dr Baker.

“Alcohol and driving is a particularly lethal mix, and again this is something we’re urging people to be careful with over summer.  Socialising is very much part of the Kiwi summer, but we need to be responsible with alcohol if we’re to avoid tragedy.”

Last updated 26/01/2012