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Father Who Reversed Over Young Daughter Pleads With Parents: 'It Can Happen To You'

Peter Cockburn's 15-month-old daughter Georgina died instantly when he accidentally ran over her.

The builder and father, from rural NSW, was reversing his work trailer into the family garage when the tragedy occurred.

Despite the eight years that have passed since the tragic accident, and establishing a foundation in Georgina's honour, he said his wife and three other daughters continue to suffer.

"You learn how to live with trauma its still as painful anything we miss her all the time, but have to learn to live with that pain," he told 10 daily.

Image: Peter and his four daughters in 2011. Georgina (R) shortly before she died.

Peter is now a road safety advocate, speaking out after new research commissioned by the Australian Road Safety Foundation (ARSF) revealed adults with kids in the car are more likely to engage in risky driving behaviour.

He said he's deeply saddened by the findings, and that parents believe tragedy won't hit them.

"Our mindset is that its not going to happen to us, I'll be right I'll just take this one phone call and it won't take long but that is when it goes wrong," he said.

"We don't really think of the risks and what we are actually doing and that its somebody else's issue."

More than half of Australian parents admit to speeding, using their mobile phone or driving distracted while their own kids are in the car.

The online survey of 1000 Australians also found one in five parents admit to taking the same risks when driving a vehicle occupied by someone else’s children.

READ MORE: 'I Cry Every Time': Why Grandmother Watches Horrific Crash Video

"If you are to ask a parent what's the most important thing to you, you would easily say your child's safety, and yet half the people who responded admitted to being distracted and speeding and all sorts of things," ARSF founder and CEO Russell White told 10 daily.

Image: Getty Images

The research also showed one third of parents admit they have driven over the legal alcohol limit, compared to one quarter of other Australians.

"I think things like the increase in distraction -- and we are probably just scratching the surface about the amount of drug driving that is happening at the moment -- these are things that are starting to come to the fore," White said.

The not-for-profit organisation dedicated to reducing road fatalities and injuries partners with state governments and private corporations to run awareness campaigns.

White said there has been progress in law enforcement and car design "but the big thing is that we haven't yet shifted the human factor and the human behavioural side."

In 2018 there were 1,141 road deaths, and so far this year there have been 430 people killed on our roads. The toll is 10 percent higher than the same period last year.

The road safety research also revealed that 45 percent of the population don’t know how significant road trauma is among young people.

READ MORE: Calls For Doctors To Dob In Risky Older Drivers

A majority of respondents thought illness and drownings were the leading causes of death among those under the age of 14.

However, road trauma is the number one killer of children in this age group, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

"I will never know the person I have saved because that person hasn't gone on to become a statistic ... the only scorecard we have is the road toll," White said.

Both Cockburn and White said governments and police alone can't change the dire statistics.

Cockburn said humans are increasingly addicted to technology and suggested simple changes like putting your mobile in your boot when you drive.

"If we don't take the time to look, look at our own behaviour and separate our kids from cars in our home environment, tragic accidents can and will happen," Cockburn said.

The ARSF calls on individuals to make their Fatality Free Friday pledge online or at one of the many public signing events across the country.

Contact the author alattouf@networkten.com.au