CDC: Child Passenger Deaths Have Decreased 43 Percent Since 2002

February 4, 2014 Updated Feb 4, 2014 at 5:22 PM EDT

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CDC: Child Passenger Deaths Have Decreased 43 Percent Since 2002

February 4, 2014 Updated Feb 4, 2014 at 5:22 PM EDT

(CDC news release) Motor vehicle crash deaths among children age 12 and younger decreased by 43 percent from 2002-2011; however, still more than 9,000 children died in crashes during that period, according to a new Vital Signs report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to a CDC news release issued Tuesday:

Research has shown that using age- and size-appropriate child restraints (car seats, booster seats, and seat belts) is the best way to save lives and reduce injuries in a crash. Yet the report found that almost half of all black (45 percent) and Hispanic (46 percent) children who died in crashes were not buckled up, compared to 26 percent of white children (2009-2010).

“No child should die in a motor vehicle crash because they were not properly buckled up and yet, sadly, it happens hundreds of times each year in the U.S.,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “Many of these tragedies are preventable when parents use age-and size-appropriate child restraints every time their child rides in a motor vehicle.” 

CDC analyzed 2002–2011 data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, to determine the number and rate of motor-vehicle occupant deaths, and the percentage of child deaths among children age 12 and younger who were not buckled up.

The Vital Signs report also found that:

    One in three children who died in crashes in 2011 was not buckled up.

    Only 2 out of every 100 children live in states that require car seat or booster seat use for children age 8 and under.

Child passenger restraint laws result in more children being buckled up. A recent study by Eichelberger et al, showed that among five states that increased the required car seat or booster seat age to 7 or 8 years, car seat and booster seat use tripled, and deaths and serious injuries decreased by 17 percent.

“Parents and caregivers play an important role in keeping children safe in the car,” said Daniel M. Sosin, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.C.P., acting director of CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. “Children often imitate their parents; so it’s important that parents model safe behavior and buckle up on every trip. Parents also should always buckle children in age- and size-appropriate car seats, booster seats and, seat belts.”

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