Dubai: Many children are killed or seriously injured every year because a driver who was reversing did not see them.
Such an incident usually takes place when a car is backing out of a driveway or parking space, said a senior police official.
Major General Mohammad Saif Al Zafein, Chief of Dubai Police’s Traffic Department, told Gulf News that there has been a worldwide increase in parents or relatives reversing over a child in the family driveway.
“Being run over at low speed is one of the frequent causes of injury or death among children aged between one and four years,” he said.
He said a slow-moving vehicle reversing down a driveway can trap a child, causing fatal injuries as the child will be crushed or hit their head on the concrete.
Maj Gen Al Zafein said that recommended devices for reducing the risk of driveway accidents are a combination of proximity sensors and a rear-view camera to detect obstacles in the path of a vehicle. “Most luxury cars have rear-view cameras,” he said. “We cannot impose these on the public but it may help if they have them.”
Even if sensors and rear-view cameras are in use, however, he said the driver may not notice a small child until it is too late. He said close supervision of the child and the area is the best precaution.
“Most incidents occur in driveways of homes or in shopping centres and sometimes in front of schools,” said Major Gen Al Zafein.
Such accidents happened in almost all cases in homes where the area provided no clear separation between the driveway, garage and rest of the yard where the children played, he added.
“Four-wheel-drive vehicles or SUVs have blind spots whereby a toddler less than three metres from the vehicle is not visible to the driver,” he said. “Vans, school buses and trucks, including pick-ups are also involved more in such accidents, due to poor visibility.”
He called for a safety review for large vehicles.
“Such incidents can be avoided by simply taking more care,” he said. “People need to walk around behind the vehicle, and check that the path is clear, before entering the vehicle.”
He added that checking the area only takes an extra six to eight seconds.
“Children play all around and it’s difficult to spot them and some of them even play underneath the car,” he said.
From the beginning of this year 41 children, aged between 1 to 8 years, have been injured in traffic accidents. Out of these three died, two sustained serious injures and 29 sustained moderate injures. 30 boys and 11 girls were involved. One of the children was actually driving the car, 28 were passengers and 12 pedestrians.
Last week a father in Fujairah, not realising his child was in front of the car ran over the child, resulting in his death.
In May this year a child was seriously injured after being run over by a school bus in Sharjah and in March a two-year-old Indian boy died after being knocked down by a pick-up truck after being hit at around 1.45pm on a service road in front of Abu Hail Clinic in the Hor Al Anz area. The Asian driver of the pick-up truck told police that he did not see the child.
In January this year a Grade 1 Emirati student died after being run over by a school bus in Sharjah, while in October an 18-month-old Emirati child died after being accidentally run over by his uncle at the child’s home in the Al Tala’a area of Sharjah.
In March 2011 a British father accidentally ran over his 18-month-old baby boy while reversing his car, resulting in the infant’s death. The incident occurred early in the morning when the father was on his way to work.