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Reversing Cameras Could Have Prevented Recent Driveway Deaths

Reversing cameras and beeping parking sensors should be compulsory on all vehicles, says the car review website

Editor Clive Matthew-Wilson, who is an active road safety campaigner, was commenting after two recent deaths involving young children on driveways.

Matthew-Wilson pointed to a major study showing that children were far safer on driveways if vehicles were fitted with reversing cameras.

“There’s no guarantee that reversing cameras would have prevented these recent accidents. However, the data is quite clear: vehicles with both reversing cameras and beeping parking sensors have significantly fewer accidents involving pedestrians on driveways[1].”

Matthew-Wilson cautions that beeping parking sensors by themselves are of little benefit in reducing reversing accidents. However, front-facing beepers have potential to warn drivers of young children running in front of the vehicle[2].

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“Sadly, beeping parking sensors go off all the time, so drivers often ignore them. But when beeping parking sensors are installed alongside a reversing camera, they can be highly effective at warning drivers before these drivers reverse over a child.”

Matthew-Wilson explains how his own reversing camera and parking sensors may have saved a child's life:

“I was reversing out of a parking space at a supermarket. I checked my three rear mirrors; they were clear. But just as I began to reverse, a sudden beep warned me that a small child was running straight past the rear of my car. He appeared from nowhere, running across the reversing camera screen, then disappeared past the vehicle. He was too short to show up in my rear view mirror. If I had not had a reversing camera and parking sensors fitted, I could easily have reversed straight over this child.”[3]

Matthew-Wilson says DIY reversing cameras and beeping parking sensors are now "cheap as chips" and should be compulsory on all vehicles as part of the WOF safety check. He believes that the government should make interest-free loans available to poorer families so that they can retrofit reversing cameras and parking sensors to the family vehicle.

Matthew-Wilson says that ideally, every driveway should be fenced off to keep young children away from moving vehicles.[4] However, he said, many driveways remain a high risk to children, and if drivers can see vulnerable children, then the risk to children is greatly reduced.

Matthew-Wilson rejected the idea that educating drivers would make any difference.

“The science is quite clear: asking people to drive safely is an expensive waste of time. It’s time to refocus on what works.”

[1] An Australian analysis showed that reversing cameras were associated with a 30% reduction in fatal and serious injury crashes involving reversing vehicles, especially SUVs or light commercial vehicles. An American analysis suggested that the combination of reversing camera and beeping parking sensors reduced overall reverse crash involvement rates by 42%.

[2] About 32% of child driveway injuries or deaths involve vehicles moving forward, not backwards.

[3] New Zealand has one of the highest rates of driveway deaths in the world. Currently, about five New Zealand children die per year as a result of a driveway accidents. Another 12 are hospitalised. Many driveway accidents involve children less than five years old in residential driveways. These children are especially vulnerable to being hit by an SUV, light truck or a van driven by a parent or relative.

Historically, more than half of children hospitalised for driveway injuries are Maori. Pasifika children account for almost a quarter of cases.

[4] A New Zealand study of driveway injury calculated a fourfold increase in risk for children in driveways that were not physically separated from the house by a fence. Shared driveways and driveways that were accessable from play areas also posed a high risk for children.

Various studies before 2013 showed that the majority of driveway deaths occurred on properties owned by Housing New Zealand / Kāinga Ora. In 2013, Housing New Zealand / Kāinga Ora began a major initiative to improve the safety of its properties.

© Scoop Media

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