New York Times photo
Unintentional injury is the most common cause of death in children under the age of 15; car wrecks are the most common cause of unintentional injury; and rural roads were the most deadly: 67 percent of deaths among children occurred on roads classified as rural by the Federal Highway Administration. Possible culprits include poor lighting, distance to trauma centers and urban residents’ lack of familiarity with rural roads.
Between 2010 and 2014, 2,885 children died in car wrecks nationwide, an average of 11 kids per week, Nicholas Bakalar writes in The New York Times. That figure does not include pedestrians, those who died in motorcycle or bicycle wrecks or those who died riding in an unenclosed cargo area or trailer. "Most of the children who died were not wearing seat belts — nationwide, 43 percent were unrestrained or improperly restrained. Another 15 percent were sitting inappropriately in the front seat, and 13 percent were riding in cars driven by somebody under the influence of alcohol," Bakalar notes.
Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas carried out this research, which was published in The Journal of Pediatrics.
Researchers also found significant variations in children’s deaths from state to state, Bakalar writes. In New Hampshire, all of the five children who died during the study period were properly restrained. In Mississippi, however, 56 of the 99 who died were not wearing seat belts, or weren't wearing them properly. There were 0.25 deaths per 100,000 children in Massachusetts, compared with 3.23 per 100,000 in Mississippi.
A 2005 study published in Injury Prevention found that rural roads have an overall higher percentage of fatal wrecks than do urban roads: 0.9 percent of wrecks on rural roads are fatal, while only 0.2 percent are fatal in urban areas.