Some of the most devastating motor vehicle crashes involving children happen in the driveway. The injuries children sustain are often severe and the parents or other adults involved are left to struggle with terrible guilt and emotional distress. Driveway injuries can be prevented with greater awareness of the danger, simple safety rules and vigilance on the part of adults.

Driveway-related injuries most often result from children being struck by a motor vehicle driven by an adult who doesn’t see them, from children falling out of a vehicle, or when a child, left unsupervised, shifts an idle vehicle out of gear and sets it in motion.

Victims Are Usually Young Children

Injury characteristics and their victims are reported in a study of children admitted to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh with driveway-related injuries.
  • The mean age of the children injured was a little more than 3 years.
  • Children under 2 years of age were more likely to have been injured as a result of being struck by a vehicle driven by an adult.
  • Children age 5 or older were more likely to have been involved in crashes that resulted when an unsupervised child was behind the wheel of the vehicle.
  • The study reports that musculoskeletal injuries are the most common. About 56 percent of the children in the hospital study were admitted with broken bones or other musculoskeletal injuries.
  • About one-third of the children suffered head injuries and about one-third had chest injuries. Four children, or six percent, died from the injuries sustained in driveway accidents.

Large Vehicles Pose a Bigger Risk

You should always be aware of the dangers of backing out of a driveway where children may be present. But the study suggests driving light trucks and SUVs requires extra precaution, due to the poor backward visibility many of those vehicles afford.

An Ounce of Prevention

Simple precautions can go a long way toward reducing the risk of driveway motor vehicle crashes.
  • Try not to let your child play in the driveway.  
  • If you allow your child to play in the driveway, block it off to prevent cars from pulling in.
  • When backing out of driveway, know where every child is. Count heads to be sure.
  • If you have a light truck or SUV, install extended mirrors to improve your view of what is behind the vehicle.
  • Never leave the car running.
  • Never leave the keys in the ignition, even if the car is not running.