Children | 2007

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).

Overvew

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.

Motor vehicle crash deaths among children younger than 13 by gender, 1975-2007
YearMaleFemaleTotal*
Num%Num%Num
19752,275621,368383,643
19762,095611,328393,424
19771,996601,350403,347
19782,021601,344403,367
19791,934611,237393,171
19801,864611,183393,048
19811,668611,064392,733
19821,530591,042402,573
19831,57963939372,518
19841,48461937392,422
19851,464591,005412,469
19861,56061972382,537
19871,635621,019382,654
19881,610601,088402,701
19891,567591,090412,658
19901,36659966412,332
19911,34660909402,257
19921,31161851392,165
19931,23057932432,164
19941,34358956422,301
19951,27158924422,201
19961,24557941432,186
19971,17056935442,108
19981,18158848422,032
19991,13657861431,997
20001,07157817431,888
200199657755431,751
200293758678421,617
200393457709431,643
200490255743451,645
200583955688451,529
200675753673471,430
200768454580461,264
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

Children younger than 13 represented 17 percent of the US population in 2007 and 3 percent of motor vehicle crash deaths.

Population and motor vehicle crash deaths by age, 2007
AgePopulationMotor vehicle crash deaths
Num%Num%
<1352,585,809171,2643
All others249,035,3488339,79597
Total301,621,15710041,059100

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

Motor vehicle crash deaths among children younger than 13 by type, 1975-2007
YearPassenger vehicle occupantsPedestriansBicyclistsTotal*
Num%Num%Num%Num
19751,384381,63245446123,643
19761,343391,52244394123,424
19771,405421,39042395123,347
19781,395411,41942387113,367
19791,331421,29141362113,171
19801,331441,18339346113,048
19811,189441,06439332122,733
19821,1584598638265102,573
19831,1344594437298122,518
19841,0814593539253102,422
19851,1314692537278112,469
19861,1884791336293122,537
19871,3124989834297112,654
19881,3545090534284112,701
19891,4695578630276102,658
19901,268547683318582,332
19911,2345569531226102,257
19921,2335763529215102,165
19931,221566443020392,164
19941,344586592920592,301
19951,339615972719792,201
19961,346625702616482,186
19971,330635132417282,108
19981,333664642315272,032
19991,311664492214171,997
20001,264674032113671,888
20011,17967363219861,751
20021,13170317209261,617
20031,11468327209361,643
20041,17371293188251,645
20051,07770274187951,529
20061,01371267197651,430
200789871245195751,264
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

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.

Passenger vehicle occupant deaths among children younger than 13 by seating position, 1975-2007
YearFront seatRear seatCargo/unknown areaTotal
Num%Num%Num%Num
19756344636727383281,384
19765634242331357271,343
19776544738327368261,405
19786764839428325231,395
19796354839430302231,331
19806615037428296221,331
19815474640634236201,189
19825704942136167141,158
19835484842037166151,134
19845234839436164151,081
19855154642838188171,131
19865504648641152131,188
19875824457144159121,312
19886044557542175131,354
19896374365545177121,469
19905424354843178141,268
19915384455845138111,234
1992514426024911791,233
199350942613509981,221
19945434063147170131,344
19955584262747154121,339
19965584165449134101,346
19974933769252145111,330
19984633572955141111,333
19994383374457129101,311
20003823075259130101,264
2001368317076010491,179
20023262969361112101,131
200330027716649891,114
200429225793688881,173
200527225710669591,077
200621421731726871,013
20071691966874617898

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.

Motor vehicle crash deaths per million children younger than 13 by type, 1975-2007
YearPopulationPassenger vehicle occupantsPedestriansBicyclistsTotal*
DeathsRateDeathsRateDeathsRateDeathsRate
197545,851,3041,38430.21,63235.64469.73,64379.5
197645,000,7041,34329.81,52233.83948.83,42476.1
197744,337,3321,40531.71,39031.43958.93,34775.5
197843,907,4671,39531.81,41932.33878.83,36776.7
197943,778,9591,33130.41,29129.53628.33,17172.4
198043,914,3421,33130.31,18326.93467.93,04869.4
198144,049,9401,18927.01,06424.23327.52,73362.0
198244,131,5961,15826.298622.32656.02,57358.3
198344,119,2971,13425.794421.42986.82,51857.1
198443,978,0441,08124.693521.32535.82,42255.1
198544,260,1361,13125.692520.92786.32,46955.8
198644,755,4541,18826.591320.42936.52,53756.7
198745,348,2471,31228.989819.82976.52,65458.5
198845,942,9661,35429.590519.72846.22,70158.8
198946,690,6041,46931.578616.82765.92,65856.9
199047,472,5271,26826.776816.21853.92,33249.1
199148,240,7471,23425.669514.42264.72,25746.8
199248,903,6681,23325.263513.02154.42,16544.3
199349,335,8641,22124.764413.12034.12,16443.9
199449,692,4621,34427.065913.32054.12,30146.3
199549,920,4841,33926.859712.01973.92,20144.1
199650,085,1881,34626.957011.41643.32,18643.6
199750,364,9831,33026.451310.21723.42,10841.9
199850,527,4761,33326.44649.21523.02,03240.2
199950,667,1391,31125.94498.91412.81,99739.4
200052,219,4231,26424.24037.71362.61,88836.2
200152,341,3951,17922.53636.9981.91,75133.5
200252,332,3061,13121.63176.1921.81,61730.9
200352,187,6021,11421.33276.3931.81,64331.5
200452,151,4061,17322.52935.6821.61,64531.5
200552,149,3951,07720.72745.3791.51,52929.3
200652,306,9081,01319.42675.1761.51,43027.3
200752,585,80989817.12454.7571.11,26424.0
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

Age and gender

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

Passenger vehicle child occupant deaths per million children by age, 1975-2007
Year<1 years oldAges 1-3Ages 4-8Ages 9-12
PopulationDeathsRatePopulationDeathsRatePopulationDeathsRatePopulationDeathsRate
19753,152,34519060.39,333,94339542.317,579,86745125.715,785,14934822.0
19763,115,39117355.59,166,17539342.917,444,43843625.015,274,70034122.3
19773,278,80418857.39,129,73541245.117,194,32945926.714,734,46434623.5
19783,326,38819257.79,317,81540643.616,838,90345527.014,424,36134223.7
19793,426,30917149.99,461,99238440.616,465,48247328.714,425,17630321.0
19803,559,86119053.49,763,80339640.615,994,36340325.214,596,31534223.4
19813,607,45517247.710,011,43833233.215,894,69040125.214,536,35728419.5
19823,643,58616445.010,287,12935234.215,997,83236522.814,203,04927719.5
19833,649,19815743.010,499,37935333.616,268,97537222.913,701,74525218.4
19843,571,92113237.010,605,20830128.416,592,56437722.713,208,35127120.5
19853,678,65713035.310,594,54032630.817,015,98738522.612,970,95229022.4
19863,699,56813035.110,653,72236033.817,338,16840923.613,063,99628922.1
19873,703,29416043.210,725,92438736.117,651,45946726.513,267,57029822.5
19883,756,54118348.710,882,63138535.417,801,23548427.213,502,55930222.4
19893,858,43518347.410,981,08540236.617,938,22652629.313,912,85835825.7
19903,987,66216240.611,168,05334330.718,082,01044724.714,234,80231622.2
19914,009,51514335.711,468,84433929.618,154,54644224.314,607,84231021.2
19923,982,85712731.911,739,32534929.718,296,74444224.214,884,74231521.2
19933,908,33515238.911,898,41636130.318,612,27843123.214,916,83527718.6
19943,854,88216041.511,821,29837932.118,958,85848625.615,057,42431921.2
19953,813,16915340.111,668,77834629.719,309,48748425.115,129,05035623.5
19963,769,54417847.211,499,42634630.119,610,00948624.815,206,20933622.1
19973,779,54313335.211,371,09432728.819,788,55350225.415,425,79336823.9
19983,790,64513836.411,301,47630426.919,814,28051225.815,621,07537924.3
19993,819,90314237.211,269,66531027.519,629,72949725.315,947,84236222.7
20003,867,75413133.911,425,86631127.220,146,32445822.716,779,47936421.7
20014,025,87310626.311,497,21129025.219,875,16445022.616,943,14733319.7
20023,984,98910726.911,733,67927223.219,662,20340520.616,951,43534720.5
20034,033,48212029.811,922,03926522.219,522,34340120.516,709,73832819.6
20044,077,18812129.712,086,91630124.919,473,82940620.816,513,47334520.9
20054,106,62711929.012,135,51724720.419,614,02441721.316,293,22729418.0
20064,130,15311527.812,265,88124720.119,809,45837518.916,101,41627617.1
20074,257,0209522.312,403,98322217.920,011,37533316.615,913,43124815.6

The rate of motor vehicle crash deaths per million children in 2007 was 11 percent higher for males than for females.

Motor vehicle crash deaths per million children younger than 13 by gender, 2007
GenderNumber of childrenDeathsRate
Male26,897,71468425.4
Female25,688,09558022.6
Total*52,585,8091,26424.0
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

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).

Motor vehicle crash deaths among children younger than 13 by type and gender, 2007
 MaleFemaleTotal*
Num%Num%Num
Passenger vehicle occupants4525044650898
Pedestrians150619539245
Bicyclists4477132357
Total*68454580461,264
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

Restraint use

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.

Restraint use among fatally injured children in passenger vehicles by age, 1985
AgeUnrestrainedSeat beltChild safety seatTotal restrainedUnknownTotal
Num%Num%Num%Num%Num%Num
<1 years old856522292231241411130
Ages 1-32307118655177322237326
Ages 4-82676941117248127018385
Ages 9-1222377217002174616290
Total8057182791817315153141,131
Restraint use among fatally injured children in passenger vehicles by age, 2007
AgeUnrestrainedSeat beltChild safety seatTotal restrainedUnknownTotal
Num%Num%Num%Num%Num%Num
<1 years old222311636664679995
Ages 1-36228136139631526884222
Ages 4-8142439629712116750247333
Ages 9-1210743120482112249198248
Total33337230262753150556607898

When they died

The proportion of children killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2007 was larger on Saturday than on other days of the week.

Motor vehicle crash deaths among children younger than 13 by day of week, 2007
Day of weekDeaths%
Sunday21617
Monday17314
Tuesday12910
Wednesday13411
Thursday15112
Friday19415
Saturday26721
Total1,264100

Twenty-four percent of the deaths of children in motor vehicle crashes in 2007 occurred during 3-6 pm.

Motor vehicle crash deaths among children younger than 13 by time of day, 2007
Time of DayNumber%
Midnight-3am413
3am-6am353
6am-9am13711
9am-noon13911
Noon-3pm22818
3pm-6pm30324
6pm-9pm24019
9pm-midnight13611
Total*1,264100
*Total includes other and/or unknowns

The proportion of children killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2007 was greater during July than during other months.

Motor vehicle crash deaths among children younger than 13 by month, 2007
MonthNumber%
January917
February978
March927
April1149
May1169
June1209
July13911
August1068
September1068
October907
November887
December1058
Total1,264100

References