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New building rules increase risk of driveway run-overs

Published: 9:41AM Friday December 07, 2012 Source: Fairfax

New building rules in Hamilton that require longer driveways could result in the death or injury of children, according to a national child safety group.

Safekids director Ann Weaver will be sending a submission to Hamilton City Council asking it to reconsider plans to have garages further back on properties, resulting in longer driveways.

"Our research tells us that longer driveways increase the risk of child injuries and in some cases, fatalities, and we will be making that point in our submission," Weaver said.

The concern follows a groundswell of resistance to the new rules, which require the garage to be set a metre back from the front of the house and require at least one window and the front door to face the street.

Hamilton City Council city environments general manager Brian Croad welcomed the planned submission from Safekids.

"They are also welcome to contact our planning staff to discuss any ideas so they can make an informed submission," he said.

But Weaver said she would be basing the submission on detailed research.

"We are aware that the design of the property and the design in relation to the driveway is important and our research supports this," she said.

"We have also been looking closely at the coroners' and media reports on each [driveway run-over] and certainly in the majority of cases the design of the property has been one of the factors involved."

She said a two-year public awareness campaign had been met with good success in the Waikato with no reported run-overs in the last two years.

Prior to that there had been four injuries and three deaths on Waikato properties between 2008 and 2010.

Weaver said the worst examples occurred when the garage was situated at the back of the property or where front doors opened on to the driveway.

"And as we head into summer the concern is that people leave doors open for fresh air and children follow parents outside," she said.

"That's why it is important to look at the environment, the things we can change, as well as looking at the long-term implications."

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