Scope of the Problem
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 2015,4 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.
Risk Reduction for Every Age
Buckling children in age- and size-appropriate car seats, booster seats, and seat belts reduces the risk of serious and fatal injuries:
- Car seat use reduces the risk for death to infants (aged <1 year) by 71%; and to toddlers (aged 1–4 years) by 54% in passenger vehicles.
- Booster seat use reduces the risk for serious injury by 45% for children aged 4–8 years when compared with seat belt use alone.
- For older children and adults, seat belt use reduces the risk for death and serious injury by approximately half.
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