Motor Vehicle Accident Deaths for Kids Down, But Could be Lower: CDC
A new report released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that the number of children who have died from motor vehicle accidents has declined over the past ten years, but the federal health officials indicate that the number could still be much lower if proper child safety restraints were used by more people.
In the latest issue of the CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report issued on February 4, researchers indicate that the overall number of deaths involving children in motor vehicle crashes declined between 2002 and 2011. However, more than one-third of children who did die in accidents were unrestrained, meaning that they were either not wearing a seat belt or were not in an car seat or booster seat.
The report indicates that more deaths could be prevented if proper child safety restraints were always used.
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More than 9,000 children between the ages of 0 and 12 years of age died in vehicle related crashes between 2002 to 2011. The death rates for children aged 0 to 12 years old decreased by 43% since 2002. However, the proportion of unrestrained child deaths decreased only 24% for children across all ages. The proportion of deaths involving unrestrained children ages 1 to 3 years old decreased by only 18%.
The CDC analyzed data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System from 2002 to 2011. The system reviewed crashes that occur on public roads in the United States and involved one occupant, a pedestrian or bicyclist who died within 30 days of the accident.
The report also indicates that African American and Hispanic children appear to face a significantly higher risk death from being unrestrained in an accident when compared to white children. Nearly 50% of deaths in African American and Hispanic children involved an unrestrained child, compared to 26% among white children.
Researchers also found restraint use decreased for both African American and Hispanic children during that time.
Surprisingly, deaths involving unrestrained children were much higher compared to the proportion seen in observational studies, researchers said.
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among children in United States. In fact, the U.S. has a much higher rate of traffic death rates for children than other high income countries, such as the United Kingdom and Sweden.
Study authors recommend certain interventions to help increase child safety restrain use. Interventions include implementing child passenger restraint laws with booster seat coverage through eight years of age, child safety seat distribution in low-income areas and other educational programs.
Researchers also recommend parents use booster seats and restraints in the back seat of a vehicle until an adult seat belt fits properly.
Last month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) proposed new standards for side impact tests for child restraint systems, requiring manufacturers to take additional steps and implement new testing procedures to make sure child passengers are sufficiently protected from side impacts.
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