kids

What Peter and Emma Cockburn want parents to know after their daughter died from being run over in their driveway.

Transport for NSW
Thanks to our brand partner, Transport for NSW

Five years ago, Peter and Emma Cockburn’s lives changed in an instant when their 15-month-old daughter passed away, after being run over in the driveway of their family home.

Peter, who is a builder, had just arrived home from work and was backing his ute and tool trailer out of the garage when little Georgina crawled into the path of the reversing vehicle.

She had gotten through the access door between the house and the attached garage, and had crawled over to say ‘hello to daddy’.

“It could happen to anyone, anywhere at any time,” Emma told Mamamia.

“We forget that children are small humans in their own right and are quite capable of getting themselves into trouble.”

“Sometimes you can do everything under the sun to protect them and they still get in the path of danger.”

Georgina died in April 2011. In the nine years before her death, in NSW alone, another 16 young children were reportedly killed in low-speed run over accidents on residential driveways.

On average, more than five children are killed and 47 seriously injured across Australia in the same way every year.

In most instances, the driver of the vehicle is the child’s parent, relative or another person known to the family who is visiting the home.

The driver of the vehicle in most instances is the victim’s parent or relative. Image: iStock.

Since losing their youngest daughter, the Cockburns have worked tirelessly to educate themselves and other parents in the hopes of reducing the number of these preventable tragedies.

One of the most surprising things for Emma was discovering just how common it is – almost as frequent as backyard pool drownings.

“Something that is so easily preventable, yet so important for parents and carers to have front of mind,” she said.

“We hear a lot about pool safety which is great, but not everyone has a pool.  Most people have a vehicle though and it’s second nature just to jump in the car and drive off without thinking about what’s around you.”

As a primary school teacher and mother-of-four Emma knows it’s not always possible to be everywhere at once and there’s no one ‘silver bullet’ to protect kids.

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There are, however, a few simple things every parent can do to reduce the risks.

These, she explained, can be summarised under Supervise, Separate and See.

Supervise – Always actively supervise your children when they are around vehicles. Hold their hands, pick them up and say goodbye inside the front door, never near the driveway. If you have to move the car and no one else is home, put them in the passenger seat.

Separate – Place a physical barrier (for example; a wall, locked door, fence or locked gated) between the child and the driveway.

See – Whenever going to get in the car to drive, always check and double check around the vehicle. Do a ‘circle of safety’ or take the long way around to the driver’s side. Mirrors and rear vision cameras can be a great tool for visibility for directly behind the vehicle, but don’t rely solely on them.

Mirrors can be a great tool for visibility. Image: iStock.

“You can’t always be there. It’s about putting lots of measures into place,” Emma added.

Since the loss of Georgina the Cockburns have become involved with the NSW government’s Driveway Safety campaign and launched the Georgina Josephine Foundation, which offers support services to families like their own.

“We’re not counsellors but simply talking to someone who’s been through it can help,” Emma said.

She also said she has seen many families disintegrate, consumed with guilt in the wake of a tragic driveway tragedy.

“If an incident does happen, those families need support from those around them - not judgement.”

“We learn from our mistakes and so the best thing to do is look forward, put one foot in front of the other and don’t blame yourselves or each other.”

After all, your children are counting on you.

What are some of your tips for driveway safety?

This post was written thanks to our brand partner Transport for New South Wales.

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