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A Geelong mother is urging motorists to “expect the unexpected” when exiting from driveways after her 11-year-old daughter was hit by a truck while legally riding her bike along the footpath.

Poppy O’Brien’s hand was badly broken when she was knocked off her bike about 1.45pm on July 16 as she was riding along Grovedale’s Marshalltown Road towards Bailey Street.

Alice Doherty said her daughter was riding to a friend’s house when the truck hit her as it exited the driveway of a local business.

“Poppy’s a really responsible kid and she knows that she’s not allowed on the road and has to ride on the footpath,” Ms Doherty said. “She had a mobile phone in her backpack as she always does so she can contact us if she needs to, and off she went. But she came home not long after really pale and shaking with a very swollen and bleeding hand.”

Ms Doherty drove Poppy to hospital where it was confirmed that her hand had been badly broken when she fell to the ground after being hit.

She said Poppy had told her that the driver stopped and got out to check that she was okay, but she was in shock and to upset to tell the stranger that her hand was hurting.

The driver retrieved her bike for her from under his truck before driving off, and Poppy turned around to walk her damaged bike home.

Her hand was placed in a splint for eight weeks and she continues to undergo physiotherapy to help regain her strength in the hand.

Ms Doherty said she was grateful her daughter’s injuries weren’t any worse, but she said what happened should act as a reminder to all drivers to exercise caution when exiting driveways given children could be riding or walking past.

“Motorists should expect the unexpected because if something goes wrong and someone gets seriously injured or killed, you’d have to live with it for the rest of your life,” she said. “It only takes two seconds of not paying attention and everybody’s lives are changed forever.

“There’s a primary school a block away from where this happened and it’s right where all the school buses stop, so it’s really important that motorists take into account every time they get behind the wheel that kids could be unexpectedly going past.”

Senior Associate Anna Jennings-Edquist, from Slater and Gordon Lawyers, said it was legal in Victoria for children to ride on the footpath up to the age of 12 while they were still building their bike skills.

“Motorists should exit driveways slowly and carefully, being mindful that there could be a pedestrian or a child on a bike on the footpath. Kids in particular are vulnerable to being injured or even killed, because they may not expect cars coming out of driveways and are less likely to have the reflexes to be able to react in time,” she said.

“We know that a lot more people have taken up cycling since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, so all drivers should slow down and be mindful of others whenever they are driving anywhere. What happened to Poppy highlights that coming out of a driveway is no exception.”

Figures released by the Monash University Accident Research Centre reveal there was a 62 per cent increase in emergency department presentations in Victoria by injured cyclists between October 2019 and October 2020.

Media Contact:

Andrea Petrie on 0428 994 937