In the United States during 2008, 968 children ages 14 years and younger died as occupants in motor vehicle crashes, and approximately 168,000 were injured. A CDC study published in the May 3, 2000 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association indicates that 64% of the children who died in car crashes were riding in the vehicle with a drinking driver. The drinking driver was typically old enough to be the age of the child’s parent or caregiver. The study also found that as the blood alcohol concentration of the child’s driver increased, child restraint use decreased. The statistics is grim:
- Fifteen percent of occupant deaths among children ages 0 to 14 years involved a drinking driver.
- More than two-thirds of fatally injured children were killed while riding with a drinking driver.
- Restraint use among young children often depends upon the driver’s seat belt use. Almost 40% of children riding with unbelted drivers were themselves unrestrained.
- Child restraint systems are often used incorrectly. One study found that 72% of nearly 3,500 observed car and booster seats were misused in a way that could be expected to increase a child’s risk of injury during a crash.
These are preventable deaths. People who decide to sit behind the wheel impaired must remember that they are responsible not only for their own safety, but for the safety of others.