As adults, we spend a lot of time in vehicles, whether traveling to and from work, our kids’ schools or extracurricular activities, to the store, gym, a movie, on a trip, and everywhere in between. While we tend to think of ourselves as spending a lot of time on the road, children do as well.
Even if you’re not the person transporting them back and forth to school daily, then someone is, whether it’s a nanny or babysitter, school bus driver, or a carpool service. The same goes for transportation to and from their extracurricular activities, such as dance, sports, music lessons, or scouts. Then, there’s the potential that they’re involved in religious activities. You can also add into the mix travel for field trips, games or competitions, and going different places during school breaks or summer camp.
Kids spend their fair share of time in automobiles, whether in passenger cars, vans, or school buses. If you worry about their safety in using these different modes of transportation, your fears are rightfully placed. Let’s explore the causes of child-related motor vehicle injuries and deaths.
How Common Is It for Children to Suffer Injuries or Die in Motor Vehicle Accidents?
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics show that 183,000 children suffered injuries in motor vehicle accidents in 2019. That same year, the federal agency recorded 36,096 traffic-related fatalities. At least 3% of the victims (1,053 total decedents) were children aged 14 or younger.
Data published by the National Institutes for Health (NIH) highlights how 150 children nationwide end up being seen in hospital emergency rooms after becoming involved in an accident every day here in the United States.
What Are the Causes of Child-Involved Auto Accidents?
The NHTSA records why child motorists lost their lives in fatal accidents. That breakdown of what causes the most child-related motor vehicle injuries and deaths includes:
- Failure to use car seats, seat belts, or restraints: 40%
- Alcohol impairment: 19%
- Struck while riding a bicycle: 5%
- Hit while walking: 3%
How Restraints Impact Children’s Crash Injury and Fatality Rates
The NHTSA uses the term restraint in referring to both seat belt and car or booster seat use.
The federal agency’s data shows that child safety seats have the following efficacy when used to restrain children belonging to these age groups in both passenger cars and light trucks:
- Infants (up to 12 months old): 71% in passenger cars and 58% in light trucks
- Toddlers (age 1-4): 54% in passenger cars and 59% in light trucks
Other NHTSA analyses show that combination lap and shoulder belts significantly lower kids’ injury and fatality risks at the following rates, depending on the type of vehicle that they’re riding in:
- Moderate-to-critical injuries: 50% in passenger vehicles and 65% in light trucks
- Fatal injuries: 45% in passenger vehicles and 60% in light trucks
It’s important to note that the above-referenced injury or fatality risks that kids properly restrained by seat belts face specifically pertain to children ages five and over, riding in the front seat of an automobile.
When Children Are Most Likely to Be Injured or Killed in a Crash?
NHTSA statistics show that child pedestrians are most apt to be struck by vehicles during the before and after school or early evening windows during the week. The time frame beginning in the late afternoon leading up to the middle of the evening is when child pedestrians are most likely to be struck on the weekends.
It’s unclear if the number of children involved in auto-involved crashes also occur during these same times, but it would make sense if that were the case.
Are Children Safer in Passenger Cars or School Buses?
A common question parents have is if children are safer in passenger cars or larger automobiles like school buses. One study NHTSA researchers carried out in 2014 concluded that 134 annual crashes involve student transportation like school buses, yet 21% of those collisions result in either bicyclist or pedestrian deaths, not the students’.
Most of these school-bus involved accidents injure or claim the lives of the passenger car operators. NHTSA researchers contend that 8% of accidents claim school bus crashes occupants’ lives.
Which Types of Injuries Do Children Most Commonly Suffer in Auto Accidents?
Kids are most likely to suffer the following injuries in a motor vehicle crash:
- Chest trauma
- Back injuries
- Broken bones
- Internal organ damage
- Head injuries, including concussions
It’s hit or miss in terms of traumatic events that cause the most child-related motor vehicle injuries and deaths. Also, reactions to these events may vary. Some children may experience immediate discomfort immediately following a crash, others may experience a delayed onset of symptoms. Certain injuries, if left untreated, can cause the following life-altering impairments to manifest themselves:
- Concentration issues
- Persistent headaches
- Reading problems
- Memory deficits
- Behavioral or mood problems
- Improper bone growth
This is why it’s always important to have your child checked out by a doctor to ensure they’re okay following a crash, even if they’re not complaining of any adverse symptoms.
Certain factors, including a child’s age, the type of crash they were involved in, and placement in the vehicle, may impact the type of injury a child suffers and how it affects them long-term.
As an example of how age impacts injury risk, children under a year are most vulnerable to suffering a concussion in a motor vehicle accident. Children older than 12 months are most likely to suffer bruises, cuts, and skull fractures in crashes.
In terms of crash type, children are most vulnerable to suffering an incapacitating injury in a rollover accident.
Children riding in front seats at the time of a front-end or side-impact collision have twice the chance of suffering injuries in a crash than those who ride in the second row of seats.
What Rights Do You Have if an Accident Injured Your Child?
Most Lexington parents will do anything necessary to keep their kids healthy and safe. You can only control your actions; you can’t do much about choices others around you make. Fortunately, Kentucky law allows you to hold others accountable for endangering your child’s life. You can do so by filing an insurance claim or civil lawsuit against them.
A car accident lawyer can help you prove negligence in your Kentucky case. We can take the medical bills you’ve amassed and show how your child’s injuries have impacted them and may continue to affect them in the future. We can also detail how the loss of your child has created a void in your life if they perished in the crash.
Helping your child recover or mourning their loss on top of all your other responsibilities is likely to keep you busy enough. Let our Law Office of Todd W. Burris attorneys help you sort out liability and advise you of your legal options to collect compensation in your case. A complimentary case evaluation is all it takes to set things in motion.