The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released a report showing that children are dying less frequently in traffic accidents. Over one decade, the number of children who died in car crashes dropped by forty-three percent. According to health officials, at least part of the reason for the decline was the increased use of car seats and booster seats. Despite the general increase in use of these seats, one-third of the children twelve and under who died in 2011 were not wearing a seatbelt or safety restraint. Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says that “the first step is buckling up. Every child, of every age, on every trip.”
The CDC studied crash fatalities of children twelve and under from 2002 through 2011, a time when traffic deaths overall declined to levels not seen in over fifty years. Young children traditionally account for only a small portion of the total deaths caused by car crashes. Children accounted for 650 of the 21,000 deaths of drivers and passengers in the last year of the CDC study. Preliminary figures for 2012 show the number of child fatalities decreased to 637. Jonathan Adkins, deputy director of the Governors Highway Safety Association, commented that children are not the ones who go out drinking or driving at night, which is the time at which many of these deadly accidents occur. He said that teens and young adults account for the largest share of traffic deaths.
The CDC study was not meant to provide answers as to why the number of young children dying in car crashes has declined; experts believe that the decline can be credited to a large increase in state laws requiring car seats and booster seats and programs that encourage adults to make sure their kids are buckled up. The CDC noticed a racial disparity in how well these laws and programs have worked–nearly half of the black and Hispanic children who died in car accidents in 2009 and 2010 were not sitting in safety seats or wearing seat belts, compared to only a quarter of the deaths of white children. Experts say this may be because of income and the cost of car seats. Many car seats cost over $100 and can be quite difficult to install. Frieden stated that there are community programs that provide assistance and subsidies for car seats. Health officials encourage parents to keep all children twelve and under in the back seat and utilize car seats and booster seats until seat belts fit correctly. They also recommend that car seats face the rear up until age two. Just last month, the NHTSA proposed new regulations to provide better protection during side-impact crashes to children in car seats.
Child traffic deaths drop 43 percent over decade www.palmbeachpost.com February 4, 2013
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