Driveway Danger

Reporter Graeme Butler

Brock says “your the one doing the damage your the one doing the damage your the one you know causing the trauma to your own “

It's Christmas Eve at the aberle house... baby charlotte is helping dad brock wash the car - mum tammy is behind the camera. But in less than an hour this happy scene becomes a nightmare

“We need an ambulance my daughters just been run overshe been run over by my husbands car backing the car out didn't know she was there”

Brock says “just running behind the car just expecting her just feeling the car run over her I was assuming that was it because she started screaming then just before that it clicked into my mind there was that second where the car was still rolling back and she was under the tyre being pushed by the tyre on the concrete”

Both parents thought the other had charlotte - neither did... the toddler wandered behind the car at the precise time Brock was shifting it in the drive

“Your life really does flash before your eyes I mean this is my little girl as a husband and a father you're meant to be the protector once she gets into trouble you're the dad you're the hero of the moment but this is quite the opposite.”

Charlotte was rushed to hospital - a fractured collar bone and broken ribs, it could have been so much worse.. and for many Australian families it is. “Approximately one child every week is run over in the driveway often by a member of their own family” Sue Wicks from kidsafe says and the effect of accidents like this can be devastating.” To run over your child in the driveway of your home and the worst case scenario where you actually kill your child is absolutely horrific it destroys families”

The reason so many children are run over in driveways is two-fold - parents being unaware of where their children are and huge reversing blind spots in nearly every car. Gary Moore says “they probably wouldn't be aware that there is an extensive black spot in most vehicles that can be very dangerous particularly with young children in driveways”

SGIO and NRMA have conducted reversing index testing on hundreds of cars in Australia to see how much visibility there is behind. Gary Moore from SGIO says the results are startling. “The average blind sport across all vehicles is around 15 metres, square metres so in other words an average 2 year old child would have to be more than 7 metres behind the vehicle in a radius arc before they would be seen”

This is an average family sedan and when you look in the rear view mirror and the two side mirrors you cant' see anything behind me but incredibly all these balloons are what I couldn't see and anyone one of these could have been a small child”

Gary Moore says “manufacturers are aware of it we've received some really positive feedback on this survey that we conduct we've been doing this survey probably close to 3 years now first year we did about 80 vehicles and this year we looked at 200 vehicles“

The cars that scored lowest in the reversing index were

  • Holden commodore
  • Toyota Prado
  • Honda Odyssey
  • Mercedes CLK500
  • Holden crewman Ute.

These had reversing blind spots of 27 square metres.

Gary Moore says “there are an increasing g number of vehicles these days looking at rear cameras particularly some of the 4wds and rear sensors as another example of ways of detecting something that might be behind vehicles” But all the technology in the world doesn't compensate for simply making sure children are nowhere near a vehicle.

Sue Wicks says “make sure that there's another adult there that's physically got hold of the children where you can see them if that's not possible make sure that you've done the circuit of the car before you get in and move it”

Baby charlotte has made a full recovery and only required a short hospital stay.. She even got to open those Christmas presents, but for her mum and dad the best present under the tree was their daughter.

“You could've killed her – Brock says “I could've and just knowing that it's my fault was the worst thing “

To see the full list of results in the reversing index tests go to

http://www.sgio.com.au/pub/sgio/motor/car_research/reversing_visibility/index.shtml