Children and Unexpected Motor Vehicle ThreatsNovember 2, 2017
In 2015, approximately 38,300 people were fatally injured in car accidents, many of whom were young children. Even when children are properly buckled in and secured, they can become seriously injured in car accidents. What may come as a surprise is how often children are injured or killed in accidents that do not involve collisions with other cars.
Researchers from Brown University recently published a study, entitled “Unintentional Nontraffic Injury and Fatal Events: Threats to Children In and Around Motor Vehicles,” that focuses on the hidden dangers to children when they are inside or in the vicinity of a motor vehicle.
Thanks to advances in safety technology, new legislation, and public safety campaigns, there has been a significant reduction in the number of children who have been injured or killed in crash-related accidents in recent years. However, little is known about the number of injuries or fatalities in children who were in or around a car.
Brown researchers used a unique surveillance system and database, which was developed by KidsAndCars.org, a nonprofit organization committed to protecting children by raising awareness of what can happen when a child is left alone in or around a motor vehicle. They found that, between 1990 and 2014, there were more than 11,750 incidents involving a range of venues and vehicles affecting 14,568 children 14 years old and younger. Close to 3,400 of the incidents resulted in fatalities. The average age of the victims was 42 months.
Examples of Non-Traffic Accidents
According to the Brown study, the following are examples of non-traffic related incidents that can endanger the lives of children:
- Heat stroke from being left in a hot car
- Power window strangulation
- Trunk entrapment
- Children accidentally putting the car into gear
According to Dr. Mark Zonfrillo, Pediatric Emergency Medicine Physician and Injury Researcher at Hasbro Children’s Hospital and Alpert Medical School of Brown University, these non-traffic incidents are entirely preventable. They pose a serious threat to the safety of young children, yet they often go unreported.
According to Janette Fennell, President and Founder of KidsAndCars.org, these tragic incidences were referred to as freak accidents until recently. The study shows how common they are. If awareness continues to be raised through education programs, engineering modifications, and public health initiatives, these senseless tragedies can be prevented from happening.
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