According to new traffic accident research from UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and Harvard Medical School, one in every five children killed in car crashes in the United States was unrestrained or improperly restrained.
The study authors analyzed nationwide data on nearly 2,900 traffic crash deaths involving children under the age of 15 between 2010 and 2014, and found that 13 percent of crash victims were inappropriately placed in the front seat.
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Some parts of the country fared far worse than others. The South had 1,550 deaths and a death rate of 1.34 per 100,000 children per year. The Midwest had 585 deaths and a death rate of 0.89 per 100,000 children per year. The West had 561 deaths and a death rate of 0.76 per 100,000 children per year. And the Northeast had 189 child deaths and a death rate of 0.38 per 100,000 children per year.
States with the most deaths included: Texas, California, Florida, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama. And states with the fewest deaths were: Rhode Island, Alaska, Delaware, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, and Hawaii.
"This geographic variation is important because laws regarding child traffic safety remain within the statedom," explained senior study author Dr. Faisal Qureshi. "The significant state-level variation evident in our findings emphasizes the need for close collaboration between the injury prevention community and those enacting and enforcing legislation."
Dr. Qureshi and his colleagues predict that just a 10 percent improvement in child-restraint use in vehicles would cut the national child crash fatality rate significantly, to about 232 deaths a year.
To help keep kids safe, follow these guidelines from the CDC:
Visit the CDC's site for more info on car seat safety.