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Plea for safety following deaths of two children on rural South Auckland driveways in four days

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A rural South Auckland settlement is reeling the deaths of two children following separate driveway accidents in less than a week, a local councillor says.

A child died yesterday afternoon in a driveway crash on Karaka Rd, Karaka.

Police were called about 3.30pm to the incident, but the child died at the scene.

Franklin Ward councillor Andy Baker told the Herald there’s nothing worse than small children getting hurt and dying.

“I drove past it [the incident] yesterday and wondered what all the police cars were doing there and you find out afterwards and feel sick. You feel sick for the family, you feel sick for the people involved.”

Police were notified of the crash at around 3:35pm involving a vehicle and a child on a driveway on Karaka Road. Photo / Google
Police were notified of the crash at around 3:35pm involving a vehicle and a child on a driveway on Karaka Road. Photo / Google

Yesterday’s incident came just four days after another child was killed following a crash on a driveway in the community.

Police were called to a driveway on Mellsop Ave in Waiuku about 11.07am Tuesday.

“Sadly we can advise the child died at the scene,” police said.

It is understood that both children were under the age of 4.

Baker said Franklin is a small, tight-knit community and it would take a lot to be detached from both incidents.

“At the end of the day the families are going to be doing it really tough… We have to give them space to go through what must be the worst thing you can have happen.”

Manurewa-Papakura Ward councillor Daniel Newman said yesterday’s incident was a “bloody tragedy”.

“Any time we have a child fatality anywhere, that’s appalling and hits home. Our thoughts go out to the family of the deceased.”

Manurewa-Papakura Ward councillor Daniel Newman. Photo / Michael Craig
Manurewa-Papakura Ward councillor Daniel Newman. Photo / Michael Craig

Newman described the community as a “small and familiar place” where people know people.

“I don’t know that particular family but obviously want to offer them my support and will make every endeavour to be in contact with them… but obviously wanting to give them some space.

Director of road safety charity Brake New Zealand, Caroline Perry, said there were key pieces of advice relating to driveway safety.

“It’s about checking for children before driving off, so walking around the car before getting into it, supervising children around any vehicles and having separate play areas from driveways.”

Perry said accidents like this could “happen incredibly quickly without warning”, so it was important to always know where children were.

“Ensure that you always slow down on a driveway whether you’re coming into or out of it.”

Brake New Zealand director Caroline Perry.
Brake New Zealand director Caroline Perry.

New Zealand has one of the highest rates of childhood driveway deaths and injuries in the world, according to government figures.

Five children a year are killed on New Zealand driveways and a child is injured on a driveway roughly every two weeks, Perry said.

Most children injured in driveway crashes are toddlers, with an average age of 2.

“Unfortunately we do see these incidents happening and of course it’s a tragedy for everyone involved,” Perry said.

Road safety campaigner Clive Matthew-Wilson believes reversing camera and beeping parking sensors should be compulsory on all vehicles as part of the WOF safety check, after the deaths of the two children.

Road safety campaigner and editor of the car buyers' Dog & Lemon Guide, Clive Matthew-Wilson. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Road safety campaigner and editor of the car buyers’ Dog & Lemon Guide, Clive Matthew-Wilson. Photo / Jason Oxenham

“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,” Matthew-Wilson said.

Beeping sensors were of little benefit in reducing reversing accidents, but front-facing beepers had potential to warn drivers of young children running in front of the vehicle.

“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.”

He said DIY reversing cameras and beeping sensors were now “cheap as chips” and should be compulsory on all vehicles.

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

Benjamin Plummer is an Auckland-based reporter who covers breaking news. He has worked for the Herald since 2022.



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