6 Dec 2015

Housing NZ focuses on driveway safety

10:59 am on 6 December 2015

Housing New Zealand is hoping to make improvements to all its properties with children aged five and under over the next six months to reduce the risk of them being run over in their own driveway.

State housing in Upper Hutt.

Improvements include fencing off play areas from driveways and installing self closing gates with child resistant latches. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

The agency launched a $30 million driveway safety programme in 2013 after research found a high proportion of children killed or injured on driveways occurred on Housing New Zealand property.

It identified 13,000 properties that had children aged five and under living at them and set a target of inspecting and improving all of them by the end of June 2016.

Housing New Zealand spokesperson Bryony Hilliss said at the end of October improvements had been made to 10,802 properties with a further 3000 planned over the next six months.

"What we found is that we're getting them done more quickly and at a slightly lower cost, on average, than we first estimated, so in fact we're going to be at 13,800 in the period we'd thought we'd do 13,000."

Improvements include fencing off play areas from driveways, installing self closing gates with child resistant latches, speed restriction signs, speed bumps and convex mirrors where necessary.

Housing New Zealand said there had been no driveway deaths since the work started. It did not have figures on the number of injuries.

Safekids Aotearoa director Ann Weaver said between four and five children a year die after being run over in a home driveway, while one child a fortnight was hospitalised with injuries.

"Forty-nine percent of the drivers are parents, 68 percent of them are reversing and 32 are going forward, so a reversing camera will not help to prevent all cases. That's why we are trying to focus on the triggers that will remind parents to check where their child is and to walk around the car and check."

A study published in the New Zealand Medical Journal in 2009 found nine children under 15-years-old were killed and 84 children injured after being run over in a driveway between November 2001 and December 2005.

Of those cases, 57 percent occurred on Housing New Zealand property.

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