It is a frightening statistic but in the United States, at least 50 young children are victims of car accidents in their own driveways every week of the year. This alone should be enough to compel all homeowners to follow good practices when it comes to safety in their own driveway and in the surrounding access to their home. So here are a few safety tips to follow in order to minimise the risk of accidents on your property, particularly with regards to the safety of young children.
The above statistic relates to children being backed over by vehicles belonging to their parents, close relative or visitors to the home, and out of the 50 children this happens to on a weekly basis, 48 of them have to be treated in hospital, with 2 suffering fatal injuries. If you have children, you need to follow a few simple steps to avoid this happening to your child. First of all, know where they are whenever a vehicle is leaving or arriving at your property. Secondly, when your children are young, make sure you fit child safety locks or gates to doors leading out onto the driveway so they cannot run out unsupervised.
Thirdly, remember that, once in the driving seat, particularly if you drive a large vehicle such as a 4WD or truck, you will not be able to see smaller children that are below the height of the car if they are behind you. Before reversing out of the drive, drivers must double check that children (as well as the family pet) are not in the direct path of the car. Fourthly, if you do have a lot of visitors, then you could perhaps encourage them to park on the roadway, and teach your children to be “car aware” on the drive at the same time you are teaching them road safety skills.
DESIGNING THE DRIVEWAY
If you are in the position of being able to design a new driveway, or you are revamping and maintaining your existing one, there are a few areas to start thinking about. If you have a long driveway leading to a garage at the rear of the property, know that people do have a tendency to drive or reverse up quicker on those than on a shorter drive with a parking area at the front. Consider having a short driveway along with separate pedestrian access up to the house, so that there is a safe path away from moving vehicles for those people who are walking or cycling up to the home. If you have large trees or bushes that obscure the vision of the driver, prune them back regularly or redesign and move planting and shrubs to minimise the risk of drivers not seeing a pedestrian.
If your property is on a hill, then review the gradient leading up or down to the house, because in slippery conditions this could cause a problem for people on foot or in a vehicle. You may also want to review the use of fenced off areas where the children can play or the family dog is kept, so they avoid contact with moving cars. Consider the surface of the drive, and review the use of anti-slip materials to minimise trips and falls.
CLEANING AND MAINTENANCE
Finally, if you keep your driveway clean and clear of debris such as slippery oil spills, mould and algae, and rotting leaves and vegetation, you will reduce the risk of accidents. Replacing cracked concrete or pavers that could be a trip hazard will also ensure the safety of those using your driveway, and make your home a safer place to be.