In that year, according to the CDC, motor vehicle crashes were the #1 overall cause of death for kids ages 1 to 4 years old, killing 558 children that year, just above “congenital anomalies.” A total of 520 kids ages 5 to 8 died in crashes that year, by far the #1 overall cause of death for that age group as well.
Ten years later, the most recent year in WISQARS for data in 2011, crash fatalities to children ages 1 to 4 years old dropped to 330. That is the 5th leading cause of death for this age group, after congenital anomalies, drowning, homicide and cancer. Similarly, car crash fatalities dropped to 285 for kids ages 5 to 8 years old, making it the #2 cause of death for that age group behind cancer. We credit automobile manufacturers, child restraint manufacturers, child passenger safety organizations, advocates and parents for this trend.
There is still a long way to go. Combined, for children ages 1 to 8 in 2011, motor vehicle crashes are still the #1 unintentional (and therefore preventable) cause of death. Back in 2001, unrestrained kids accounted for more than half of these fatalities. By 2011, education had dropped the percentage to about one-third of all crash fatalities from unrestrained kids, according to the CDC. For infants, only about 25% of kids under 12 months old died because they were unrestrained in a car crash. We’ve made a little progress, but we can do a lot more.
Heather, Kecia and I started blogging regularly in 2008. Since then, our kids have nearly outgrown carseats, with the exception of some boosters. Maybe you think that takes some of the stress away from keeping your own children protected from one of their leading killers? I’m sad to say it doesn’t. In fact, all three of us will soon have a child with their own driver’s license. How scary is that? Pretty scary. Every single one of those 285 grade school children ages 5 to 8 that died in crashes in 2011 is a tragedy. Now consider this:
In 2011, almost 2,600 children ages 16 to 19 died in motor vehicle crashes. That is roughly double the 1,300 children ages 1 to 15 that died in motor vehicle crashes that same year, and 5 times the approximately 500 children ages 12 to 15 that died in crashes that same year. As you can see, the risk of a child dying in a motor vehicle crash increases significantly when they turn 16. Fortunately, this number is trending downward as well. It dropped from 4,700 deaths in 2001 to 2,600 deaths to teen drivers in 2011. Still, traffic safety advocates have a lot more lives to save!