We care about the safety of our tenants and want to do what we can to prevent young children being run over in our homes' driveways.
Our award-winning driveway safety programme focuses on separating child play areas from driveways in all our properties.
What we are doing
We have inspected thousands of our properties where there are children aged under 5 and, depending on the type of property, begun making safety improvements. Our goal is to have completed work on these properties by 2017. After that, driveway safety will be part of our standard maintenance programme.
We are prioritising properties where there are children aged under five, with no or inadequate fences, or where vehicles can access children's play areas. Community Group properties, such as women’s refuges and family shelters where there are children, are also being made safer.
Depending on the type of property, we are installing:
- pool fencing and self-closing gates with child-resistant latches to separate driveways from children’s play areas at our standalone properties
- speed humps, speed restriction signs and convex mirrors at our complexes as needed.
While we are prioritising properties where children live, our goal is to eventually inspect all our remaining properties around New Zealand and make any necessary safety improvements.
We are writing to tenants to let them know when our contractors will be visiting their property and including a factsheet about driveway safety.
Our design guidelines consider driveway safety
We have also developed design guidelines to ensure driveway safety is taken into consideration when we are building or redeveloping a property. These guidelines include:
- providing a fenced play area for children that is separated from the driveway
- locating play areas so they are visible and directly accessible from the main living areas
- building driveways with good sight lines and clear visibility
- providing safer pedestrian access to properties, separate to driveways, where possible.
A high rate of injury
New Zealand has one of the highest recorded incidences of child driveway death and injury in the world. According to Safekids Aotearoa (external link) – the injury prevention service of Auckland’s Starship Hospital – a child is hospitalised every two weeks after being run over in a private driveway and five children die on average each year from these injuries.
Most children injured in driveway incidents are toddlers, aged about two, and their injuries are often severe. Most of these injuries come from children being run over by relatives.
Housing New Zealand properties are over-represented in driveway run-over incidents. We are working in partnership with Safekids Aotearoa to raise awareness of this issue.
Property design is one factor
Safekids Aotearoa (external link) and the Child and Youth Mortality Review Committee (external link) identify three main reasons why children are run over in driveways:
- human behaviour – most adults in New Zealand are unaware of the risks
- vehicle design – particularly lack of visibility from within vehicles, when entering and leaving driveways
- property design – particularly where driveways are not separated from play areas, extra-long or shared driveways, driveways with multiple parking spaces, driveways that exit into quiet streets or common areas shared with vehicles where children might play.
Educating people about driveway safety
To help Safekids Aotearoa raise awareness of the risk of driveway run-over incidents, our tenancy managers are providing tenants with driveway safety advice when they move into our houses.
We also include driveway safety information in our tenant newsletters and apply Safekids Aotearoa warning stickers to our front doors when doing property inspections.
We are promoting Safekids Aotearoa’s key messages about driveway safety to our staff and tenants. These messages are:
- know where your children are before getting in the car
- check for children before driving off
- supervise children around vehicles – always
- separate play areas from driveways.
Our guide to driveway safety for property owners
In partnership with Safekids Aotearoa, New Zealand Transport Agency, New Zealand Police and Roadsafe Nelson Bays, Housing New Zealand has developed:
These guides provides property owners with general guidance on making driveways at their properties safer, to reduce to risk of young children being run over.