NEW YORK, March 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Child passengers, ages 12 to 16, are more likely to die in a car crash than younger children, according to a study released today in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. This risk increases with each teenage year. Conducted as part of an on-going research collaboration between The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and State Farm Insurance Companies(R), the study offers evidence-based guidelines for parents and policymakers to help protect this vulnerable age group.
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Researchers examined 45,560 crashes involving 8- to 17-year-old passengers. Between 2000 and 2005, 9,807 passengers in this age group died in crashes.
"We saw a clear tipping point between ages 12 and 14, where child passengers became much more likely to die in a crash than their younger counterparts," says Flaura Koplin-Winston, M.D., Ph.D., founder and co- scientific director of the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at CHOP. "Long before these children ever receive a learner's permit, they begin to exhibit a pattern that looks more like the high fatality rates we see for teen drivers."
Of the nearly 10,000 passenger deaths studied by the CHOP researchers, more than half (54.4 percent) were riding with a driver under age 20; nearly two-thirds were unrestrained; and more than three-quarters of the crashes occurred on roads with posted speed limits above 45-miles- per-hour. Alcohol was also a factor in one-fifth of the fatal crashes. Previous research has shown that as children grow into adolescence, they are more likely to ride in cars with drivers other than their parents, such as classmates, friends, or older siblings.
After controlling for a variety of factors, researchers found key predictors that pose the greatest risk to older child passengers. "Riding with drivers younger than 16 years old, not wearing seat belts, and riding on higher speed roads are the three biggest factors contributing to an older child being killed in a crash," says Dr. Winston. "Knowing the risks can help parents and teens make smart decisions about which rides are safe, and which ones are off limits."
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|SOURCE Medialink and The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia|
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