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What causes motor vehicle injuries in children and teens?

When car accidents occur, children and teens often suffer serious injuries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note that more than 90,000 young people received crash-related injuries in 2019, while more than 600 lost their lives.

These statistics suggest that children and teenagers travel in vehicles with considerable risk, but when drivers understand the factors that cause injury or death for their young passengers, they can then take steps to keep them safe.

Lack of seatbelt use

Children and teenagers learn by example, so if parents do not use seatbelts, odds are that their children will not wear them either. The use of seatbelts and child restraints are a requirement in all 50 states for those under the age of 18, but some adults ignore the law because of personal preference. However, unrestrained minor passengers may get ejected during an accident, which usually increases the chance of injury or death.

Drunk driving

Parents and caregivers who drink and then get behind the wheel of a vehicle with children and teens in the car increase the risk of injury to their young passengers. Drivers may believe they are sober enough to get home or to simply drive a few blocks to pick up their kids from school after a few drinks at home, but even one drink can impair their judgment and reaction time. Additionally, adults affected by alcohol may not buckle their children into car seats properly, causing the restraints to malfunction during a crash.

Adult drivers can also protect school-aged children with the use of booster seats. In many cases, seatbelts do not fit younger kids properly and may fail to protect them during a crash.


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