Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for children younger than 13.
Child deaths in motor vehicle crashes have declined since 1975, but crashes still cause about 1 of every 3 injury deaths among children younger than 13. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. 2005. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS). Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available: http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/wisqars. Among those 3-12 years old, motor vehicle crash injuries are the leading cause of death. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. 2005. WISQARS leading cause of death reports, 1999-2005. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available: http://webappa.cdc.gov/sasweb/ncipc/leadcaus10.html. Most of these deaths occur among children traveling as passenger vehicle occupants, and proper restraint use can reduce these fatalities. Placing children in rear seats instead of front seats reduces fatal injury risk by about a third among those 12 and younger. Braver, E.R.; Whitfield, R.A.; and Ferguson, S.A. 1998. Seating positions and children's risk of dying in motor vehicle crashes. Injury Prevention 4:181-87.
All 50 states and the District of Columbia have child safety seat laws on the books. However, even though more children now ride restrained because of these laws, many children, particularly those 4 and older, still ride unrestrained.[ Error ] Fifteen states have laws requiring children to sit in the rear, but there is considerable variation among the laws based on the child's age, height, weight and if the vehicle has airbags.
The following facts are based on analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).
A total of 1,264 children died in motor vehicle crashes in 2007. This is a 12 percent decline from 2006 and a 65 percent decline from 1975. The percentage of child deaths that were male declined from 62 percent in 1975 to 54 percent in 2007.
Children younger than 13 represented 17 percent of the US population in 2007 and 3 percent of motor vehicle crash deaths.
Seventy-one percent of child motor vehicle crash deaths in 2007 were passenger vehicle occupants, 19 percent were pedestrians, and 5 percent were bicyclists. Child pedestrian and bicyclist deaths declined by 85 percent and 87 percent, respectively, since 1975. Passenger vehicle child occupant deaths in 2007 were 35 percent lower than in 1975.
Motor vehicle deaths among children younger than 13 by type, 1975-2007
It is recommended that children 12 and younger ride in vehicle rear seats. Nineteen percent of the passenger vehicle child occupant deaths in 2007 occurred in front seats, down from 46 percent in 1975. Seventy-four percent were in the rear, and the rest occurred in cargo or unknown areas.
The rate of motor vehicle crash deaths per million children younger than 13 has decreased 70 percent overall since 1975. The death rate for passenger vehicle child occupants decreased 43 percent, while the death rates for child pedestrians and bicyclists declined by 87 percent and 89 percent, respectively.
In 1975 infants (under 1 year) had a much higher passenger vehicle occupant fatality rate per capita than children of other ages, but by 2007 the age gap had narrowed considerably. Since 1975 fatality rates dropped 63 percent for infants, 58 percent for children ages 1-3, 35 percent for children ages 4-8, and 29 percent for children ages 9-12.
Passenger vehicle child occupant deaths per million children by age, 1975-2007
The rate of motor vehicle crash deaths per million children in 2007 was 11 percent higher for males than for females.
Fifty-four percent of children younger than 13 who were killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2007 were male. The gender difference in fatalities was greater among child bicyclists (77 percent males, 23 percent females) than among child pedestrians (61 percent males, 39 percent females). There was no gender difference in fatalities among child occupants of passenger vehicles (50 percent males, 50 percent females).
The proportion of fatally injured children who are restrained has risen greatly during the past 25 years among infants and 1-3 year olds (from 23 percent in 1985 to 68 percent in 2007). Restraint use has lagged among children 4-12 (from 10 percent in 1985 to 50 percent in 2007). Note, however, that these percentages are not estimates of restraint use among all children involved in potentially fatal crashes. For example, if restraint use among fatally injured 9-12 year olds (49 percent) is properly recorded, and if restraints are 45 percent effective in preventing fatalities, then restraint use among 9-12 year olds in such severe crashes is estimated to be 64 percent. In 2007, the percentage of fatally injured children in child safety seats was 66 percent for infants, 63 percent for ages 1-3, and 21 percent for ages 4-8.
The proportion of children killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2007 was larger on Saturday than on other days of the week.
Twenty-four percent of the deaths of children in motor vehicle crashes in 2007 occurred during 3-6 pm.
The proportion of children killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2007 was greater during July than during other months.
©1996-2016, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute | www.iihs.org
Subscribe to news updates
Watch our channel
Mobile ratings & news