Facts About Children and Youth
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for the age group 4 through 15.10 Fatality rates had been declining for children, but in 2004 they increased by 3.2 percent for children 3 and under and by 2.7 percent for 4- to 7-year-olds. Fatality rates for children 8 to 15 years old showed no improvement from the previous year.
In 2004, the use of child restraints saved the lives of an estimated 451 children age 4 and under.
During 2004, a total of 1,859 children from birth to age 15 were killed in passenger vehicle crashes. About 53 percent of passenger vehicle occupants in this age group were unrestrained. The breakdown by age group is:
At 100 percent child safety seat use for children under 5 years old, an estimated 566 lives could have been saved (that’s an additional 114 than were already saved).
From 1975 through 2004, an estimated 7,472 lives of children age 4 and under were saved by the use of occupant restraints (this includes child safety seats and safety belts).
Chart 6 shows data on the use and nonuse of occupant restraints among those killed in passenger vehicle crashes in 2004. In most age groups except the youngest (4 and under) and the oldest (65 and older) the majority of occupants who were killed were not restrained. Unfortunately, being properly restrained cannot prevent all passengers from being fatally injured, especially in certain high-impact crashes. However, a certain and higher percentage of occupants in all age groups would not have been killed had they been properly restrained.
There is a significant decrease in restraint use among the 5-to-9, 10-to-15, and 16-to-20 age groups (when compared to the 4 and under age group). This decrease illustrates the critical need for public information and education about the importance of restraint use, along with the need for ongoing enforcement of existing laws.
When viewing the chart, keep in mind that even with the use of occupant restraints:
In addition to nonuse of child restraints, there continues to be high levels of misuse of child restraint systems (CRSs), which can also cause serious injuries or death in a crash. In a recent study conducted by NHTSA, approximately 73 percent of observed CRSs displayed one or more critical misuses. The most common were loose vehicle safety belt attachment to the CRS and loose harness straps securing the child to the CRS.11
Chart 7 highlights facts about injury severity. In 2004, more than 67,000 children, youth, and young adults from birth to 20 suffered incapacitating injuries in passenger vehicle crashes.
Note: Totals may not equal sum of components due to independent rounding.