According to statistics provided by the US Department of Transportation (USDOT), traffic fatalities increased by 5.6 percent in 2016 when compared to 2015.  The number of child fatalities related automobile accidents also increased in 2016. 

According to statistics released by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 1,023 children died as a result of motor vehicle crashes in the United States in 2016.  Of those deaths, 723 were passengers in those vehicles.  Although the number of children killed as passengers has seen a general trend toward the decline since 1975, we have seen an increase in both 2015 and 2016.  According to the USDOT, of those 723 children whose lives were lost, 304 were occupants under the age of 5 year old.  As of this writing, the number of children who were injured was not available.

The leading cause of death of children is unintentional injury.  The most common cause of unintentional injury is motor vehicle accidents.  The toll on the families of these young victims and our communities is too great to not do everything we can to reduce the number of child fatalities as a result of auto accidents. 

Impact of Use of Child Restraints

One of the main factors identified in various studies involving child fatalities in motor vehicle accidents is the nonuse or misuse of child restraints such as car seats and booster seats.  One study published in the Journal of Pediatrics suggests that reducing the number of children unrestrained or inappropriately restrained by 10% nationwide would reduce the number of child deaths related to motor vehicle accidents by 232 per year. 

Georgia law requires that children under the age of 8 be properly restrained while riding in a motor vehicle on Georgia’s roadways.  Georgians have seen an increase in fatalities as a whole over the past several years on our roadways.  As parents, our children are relying on us to make sure we properly restrain them and thereby protect them from avoidable harm if they are involved in a motor vehicle accident.