Australians have always had a love affair with big powerful cars. First it was blokes with their V8s and now, in this age of vehicular equality, its mummas in hummers hammering over suburban speed humps like its smooth terrain.
Anyone in the vicinity of a school round drop-off time will have noticed the inverse ratio between size of drivers and their vehicles
The proliferation of 4WDs and large to medium sport utility vehicles (SUVs) on city roads is frankly killing those of us in Noddy cars.
Research has shown the driver of a small car hit by a 4WD is 4.5 times more likely to be killed or seriously injured than the off-roader’s driver.
And, of course, that’s precisely why people buy them, thinking they can keep their loved ones safe in the unfortunate event they should happen to barrel into another vehicle.
The harsh truth, though, is it’s the 4WD owner’s kids who are coming off second-best.
In the past 18 months six children have been killed in driveways in Victoria. Running over children in driveways now ranks as the number two killer of children under five in Australia at home. Almost 80 per cent of these deaths are caused by 4WDs or SUVs.
Worse, these catastrophic crush injuries are usually inflicted by a car driven by a parent, relative or family friend.
The huge blind space behind these vehicles was graphically illustrated at last week’s launch of the Kidsafe Driveway campaign when 15 linear metres of children were seated in the blind spot of a 4WD.
None of them was visible in the rear-vision mirror.
Certainly there’s a place for 4WDs. But is it really the city, when the only obstacles are baby-shaped boulders and outcrops of small children?