Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Car Crash Fatalities Too Often Young Teens

By MedHeadlines • Mar 4th, 2008 • Category: Adolescents, Children's Health, Editor's Picks, Lifestyle, Prevention

Car crashes are more likely to claim the lives of passengers aged 12 to 16 than younger passengers. Each year the teen’s age increases, so does the risk. This is the finding of an on-going collaborative study involving State Farm Insurance Companies and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The complete details of their findings have just been released in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine.Reviewing 45,560 car crashes that involved passengers aged 8 to 17, researchers isolated the 9,807 deaths of passengers in the study’s age group. All crashes in the study occurred between 2000 and 2005. Children aged 12 to 14 suffered more fatalities than those younger and older.

Statistical analysis of the findings presents some very revealing insight into the events surrounding the crashes. Researchers hope the study will lead to better passenger safety through education and awareness.

For example, 54.5% of the children killed were in vehicles driven by someone younger than age 20. In almost 2 out of every 3 fatalities, passengers were not using seat belts or other approved safety restraints. Seventy-five percent of the fatalities occurred in areas where the speed limit was higher than 45 miles per hour. Twenty percent of the fatal crashes involved alcohol.

Adolescents frequently ride in cars driven by someone other than their parents, according to previous studies. Instead, drivers are often older siblings, classmates, and friends.

Three key risk factors identified for auto safety for young teens are riding in vehicles driven by a driver younger than age 16, high-speed roadways, and not wearing seat belts.

Describing the teen deaths as preventable, the research team offers five guidelines for optimum child safety when riding in any vehicle:

1. Wear seat belts everybody, every ride, every time.

2. Set the example for safety standards. Obey speed limits, avoid cell phones, and never drink and drive.

3. Discuss the safe behaviors that mark a good passenger and set rules accordingly.

4. Pay attention to your child’s travel plans. Always know where they are going, with whom and how they plan to get there, who’s the driver, and when to expect them home.

5. Never let your child ride in a car with someone you don’t know or trust. Avoid inexperienced drivers, especially those with less than one year of experience.

The research team would like to see policy changes and strengthened enforcement measures that will help improve the safety of teenage drivers and their passengers.

Source: Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia