Driveway deaths

RoyalAuto magazine

May 2018 New reversing technology may prevent driveway deaths, a startling road statistic that affects a high number of Victorians aged over 70.

It’s little known that Victorians aged 70 and over are more likely than any other age group to be killed in their driveway.

Recent research from the National Coronial Information System shows that of the 65 driveway-related deaths in Victoria between 2003 and 2015, 55 per cent of those killed were aged 70 or older. Children aged up to 14 accounted for 15.4 per cent of deaths.

RACV’s safety and education manager, Melinda Spiteri, says there are several main scenarios involving driveway fatalities, with a vehicle reversing into the deceased comprising the majority of incidents (45 per cent). Other common incidents were a disengaged handbrake (19 per cent), being struck by a moving forward vehicle (17 per cent) and accidental acceleration (6 per cent).

“Once you are home it’s easy to feel safe and be complacent,” says Melinda. “But we all need to ensure that we are still safe when we are in and around vehicles no matter where they are.” 

With 45 per cent of those killed in their driveways being hit by a reversing vehicle, RACV is encouraging Victorians to favour vehicles fitted with reverse autonomous emergency braking (AEB) when buying a new car. 

Reverse AEB technology monitors a vehicle’s environment and brakes automatically if a crash seems likely, greatly reducing the likelihood of a collision.

RACV manager vehicle engineering Michael Case says modern vehicle designs that feature smaller rear windows, higher ride heights, rear head restraints and higher boot lids reduce a driver’s ability to see out the back of their vehicle, “so it’s important that safety features are installed”, he says. 

Tips

  • Use driveways with the same level of caution as a road. 
  • Make sure the handbrake is fully engaged.
  • Never stand behind a running vehicle; stand to one side.
  • Make sure you have clear visibility when reversing from a driveway as  the blind space behind your vehicle can be more than 15 metres.
  • Consider buying a vehicle with the latest safety technology.