Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for children younger than 13.
Deaths of children younger than 13 in motor vehicle crashes have declined since 1975, but crashes still cause 1 of every 4 unintentional injury deaths.
National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. 2016. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS), 2014 fatal injury data. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available: http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/index.html.
Most crash deaths occur among children traveling as passenger vehicle occupants, and proper restraint use can reduce these fatalities. Restraining children in rear seats instead of front seats reduces fatal injury risk by about three-quarters for children up to age 3, and almost half for children ages 4 to 8.
Durbin, D.R.; Jermakian, J.S.; Kallan, M.J.; McCartt, A.T.; Arbogast, K.B.; Zonfrillo, M.R.; and Myers, R.K. 2015. Rear seat safety: variation in protection by occupant, crash and vehicle characteristics. Accident Analysis and Prevention 80:185-92.
All 50 states and the District of Columbia have child restraint 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.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 2016. The 2015 national survey of the use of booster seats. Report no. DOT HS-812-309. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Transportation.
Seventeen 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 whether the vehicle has frontal airbags. The District of Columbia and all states except Oklahoma and Mississippi require all child occupants younger than 13, including those sitting in the rear, to be restrained.
The following facts are based on analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).
Posted November 2016.
Seventy-one percent of child motor vehicle crash deaths in 2015 were passenger vehicle occupants, 20 percent were pedestrians, and 3 percent were bicyclists. Child pedestrian and bicyclist deaths declined by 89 and 94 percent, respectively, since 1975. Passenger vehicle child occupant deaths in 2015 were 52 percent lower than in 1975.
The rate of motor vehicle crash deaths per million children younger than 13 has decreased 78 percent overall since 1975. The rate at which children die as passenger vehicle occupants decreased 58 percent, while the rates at which they were killed as pedestrians and bicyclists declined by 90 and 94 percent, respectively.
It is recommended that children 12 and younger ride in the rear seats of vehicles. Thirteen percent of the passenger vehicle child occupant deaths in 2015 occurred in front seats, down from 46 percent in 1975, while 80 percent were in the rear, and the rest occurred in cargo or unknown areas.
Children younger than 13 represented 16 percent of the U.S. population in 2015 and 3 percent of motor vehicle crash deaths.
In 1975 infants (younger than 1) had a much higher passenger vehicle occupant fatality rate per capita than children of other ages, but this gap narrowed over the years, and in 2015 there was little difference in the rates among children of different ages. Since 1975 fatality rates dropped 80 percent for infants, 66 percent for children ages 1-3, 52 percent for children ages 4-8, and 48 percent for children ages 9-12.
In 2015, passenger vehicle occupants accounted for the majority of motor vehicle crash deaths for all age groups of children. Pedestrian fatalities accounted for 7 percent of crash deaths for children younger than 1, 25 percent for ages 1-3, 20 percent for ages 4-8, and 17 percent for ages 9-12. Children ages 9-12 had the largest percentage of bicycle (6 percent) and all-terrain vehicle (5 percent) fatalities.
The rate of motor vehicle crash deaths per million children in 2015 was 19 percent higher for males than for females.
Fifty-five percent of children younger than 13 who were killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2015 were male. The gender difference in fatalities was greater among child bicyclists (90 percent males, 10 percent females) than among child pedestrians (61 percent males, 39 percent females). More males (51 percent) than females (49 percent) were killed as occupants of passenger vehicles.
The proportion of fatally injured children who are restrained has risen greatly during the past 30 years, from 15 percent in 1985 to 58 percent in 2015.
More children were killed in motor vehicle crashes on Saturdays in 2015 (19 percent) than on any other day of the week.
Twenty-six percent of the deaths of children in motor vehicle crashes in 2015 occurred between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m and 19 percent occurred between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.
The proportion of children killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2015 was greater during the month of July (12 percent) compared with other months of the year.
©1996-2016, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute | www.iihs.org
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