Motor vehicle injuries are a leading cause of death among children in the United States. But many of these deaths can be prevented.
- In the United States, 663 children ages 12 years and younger died as occupants in motor vehicle crashes during 2015, and more than 121,350 were injured in 2014.
- One CDC study found that, in one year, more than 618,000 children ages 0-12 rode in vehicles without the use of a child safety seat or booster seat or a seat belt at least some of the time.
- Of the children ages 12 years and younger who died in a crash in 2015 (for which restraint use was known), 35% were not buckled up
Risk Factors for Children & Teens
- Of the children who died in a crash:
- More black (45%) and Hispanic (46%) children were not buckled up compared with white (26%) children (2009-2010; aged 12 and under).
- More of the older children (43% of 8-12 year olds) were not buckled up compared with younger children (36% of 4-7 year olds; 26% of <4 year olds) in 2015 (with known restraint use).
- From 2001 to 2010, approximately 1 in 5 child (<15 years old) passenger deaths in the U.S. involved drunk driving; 65% of the time, it was the child’s own driver that had been drinking (BAC ≥ 0.08 g/dl).
- Most child passengers (<15 years old) of drunk drivers (61%) were not buckled up in the fatal crash.
- Restraint use among young children often depends upon the driver’s seat belt use. Almost 40% of children riding with unbelted drivers were themselves unrestrained.
- Child restraint systems are often used incorrectly. An estimated 46% of car and booster seats (59% of car seats and 20% of booster seats) are misused in a way that could reduce their effectiveness.
Preventing Motor Vehicle Injuries in Children
- Based on strong evidence of effectiveness, the Community Preventive Services Task Force recommends car seat laws and car seat distribution plus education programs to increase restraint use and decrease injuries and deaths to child passengers.
- Car seat distribution plus education programs are also recommended in a more recent review for increasing restraint use.
- A study of five states that increased the age requirement to 7 or 8 years for car seat/booster seat use found that the rate of children using car seats and booster seats increased nearly three times and the rate of children who sustained fatal or incapacitating injuries decreased by 17%.
(Link below is a diagram of proper child car seat/booster seat adjustments)