I am always skeptical of statistics. Plus, they make for a good blog when I have nothing that is actually interesting. Many studies that look great in the conclusion (e.g. Doing this is 5 times safer than doing that!) are not quite as compelling when you read the whole thing. Most statistics don’t even apply to me, because I don’t drive impaired or leave my kids unrestrained most of the time, as is the case with over half the children who die in car crashes. Plus, I don’t drive an older sedan with minimal safety features and average crash ratings; I have a fairly new minivan that is probably among the safest vehicles on the road. Few studies take into consideration what happens to kids who are properly restrained in newer vehicles; most just lump them in with the average.
That’s not necessarily so bad, after all, the people we really need to reach are those who don’t restrain their kids at all or don’t do it correctly. For them, there are tons of quotes you can give! Here’s one for those who believe that having a newer vehicle that automatically shuts off the passenger airbag makes it OK for their kids to ride in front. In summary, all children 12 years old and under are safest when properly restrained in the back seat of the vehicle. Children are up to 29 percent safer riding in the back seat versus the front seat, whether the vehicle has an air bag or not.”
Here’s just one quote from a great compilation of child passenger safety statistics, emphasising one of the most harmful things you can do to your child, “One out of four occupant deaths among children ages 0 to 14 years involved a drinking driver. More than two-thirds of these fatally injured children were riding with a drinking driver.”
Here’s another nice compilation of some good talking points, like this one, “Inappropriately restrained children are nearly three and a half times more likely to be seriously injured in a crash than their appropriately restrained counterparts.”
Here’s a recent study I found interesting, given that I used to be a very big advocate of minivans 5-10 years ago, back when SUVs were mostly truck-based and many of those were rolling death traps. Many current SUVs are quite similar to minivans and have narrowed the gap considerably in terms of safety, but apparently the gap isn’t completely closed, yet. “Results of this study indicate that children seated in minivans during a crash have a significantly lower crude risk of fatal and non-fatal injury than children seated in SUVs. The differences in risk of non-fatal injury are associated with vehicle type even after adjustment for other child and driver characteristics, vehicle model year, and rollover. The increased proportion of SUV crashes involving rollover explained most of the difference in risk of fatal injury for child occupants in minivans versus those in SUVs. “
Anyway, if you do find a statistic you like, be sure to understand what it means exactly, what variables were considered and the context of the research that produced it. After a statistic has been passed around from website to website and quoted out of context, it can convey quite a different meaning than what was intended. Even the best of us toss out numbers that really don’t mean what we think they do. That’s because it can be very difficult to differentiate a good statistic from a bad one, especially when the research itself can be flawed or just doesn’t apply.