Tragedy can’t be re­versed

Cam­eras, sen­sors are no sub­sti­tute for vig­i­lance, writes Mark Hinch­liffe

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Onroad -

CHIL­DREN are still at risk of be­ing run over by re­vers­ing ve­hi­cles de­spite new technology that helps driv­ers de­tect them, ac­cord­ing to Kid­safe Aus­tralia.

NRMA In­surance has just re­leased its an­nual In­surance Re­vers­ing Vis­i­bil­ity In­dex that shows new cars are still not safe when chil­dren are play­ing nearby.

The sur­vey shows 8 per cent of the 218 cars tested had a max­i­mum fives­tar vis­i­bil­ity rat­ing, up from 5 per cent last year, as ve­hi­cle re­vers­ing cam­eras be­come more pop­u­lar and sub­stan­tially re­duce the blind spot be­hind a ve­hi­cle.

How­ever, Kid­safe Queens­land chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Su­san Teerds says cam­eras and park­ing sen­sors are not fool­proof.

‘‘I’m not a fan of park­ing sen­sors,’’ she says. ‘‘Peo­ple tend to ig­nore them.

‘‘We tell peo­ple not to rely on sen­sors or re­vers­ing cam­eras. Noth­ing sub­sti­tutes for vig­i­lance.’’

She says that on av­er­age two chil­dren a week are be­ing run over in Queens­land be­cause par­ents don’t su­per­vise their chil­dren, sep­a­rate them from traf­fic with a se­cure fence and check be­hind their ve­hi­cle when re­vers­ing.

‘‘These must be used in com­bi­na­tion to be ef­fec­tive,’’ she says. ‘‘In the past 10 years, 1000 chil­dren have been ad­mit­ted to Queens­land hos­pi­tals in low-speed, run-over ac­ci­dents.’’

Most in­ci­dents oc­cur at school car parks, shop­ping cen­tres and at home, with par­ents of­ten the driver.

NRMA In­surance spokesman Robert McDon­ald says man­u­fac­tur­ers are adding re­vers­ing cam­eras in more new ve­hi­cles, while all Aus­tralian-built large fam­ily ve­hi­cles now in­clude them as a stan­dard or an op­tional fea­ture.

This year the Holden Com­modore sedan joins the Ford Fal­con and Toy­ota Au­rion/Camry with the re­verse sen­sor cam­eras.

How­ever, Com­modore and Fal­con still rate zero stars in the vis­i­bil­ity sur­vey be­cause ve­hi­cles with the cam­eras fit­ted were not avail­able at the time of test­ing.

‘‘Though we’ve seen an in­crease in the take-up of re­vers­ing cam­eras, 13 per cent of cars tested still scored a zero rat­ing,’’ McDon­ald says.

Teerds says it is a myth that four­wheel-drive ve­hi­cles are the biggest cul­prits.

‘‘They might be more lethal be­cause they are big­ger and heav­ier but they are not do­ing the ma­jor­ity of the run-overs.’’

The NRMA In­surance fig­ures show sev­eral sedans, hatches and small cars with zero rat­ings, while sev­eral large SUVs rated max­i­mum stars.

The NRMA In­surance Re­vers­ing Vis­i­bil­ity In­dex mea­sures the vis­i­ble area and dis­tance across the rear of the ve­hi­cle and takes into ac­count whether cam­eras and sen­sors have been in­stalled.

Out of sight: Su­san Teerds looks at the safety of re­vers­ing cam­eras.

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