Child Passengers Killed in Reckless and Alcohol-Related Motor Vehicle Crashes

About 20 years ago, concern was raised about the dangers that children face when driven by drinking drivers in the United States. During the last decade, the pace of research on this topic subsided. Yet in 2010, every day three children younger than age 15 were killed, and 469 were injured in motor-vehicle crashes. The aim of this effort is to describe the status of the problem in the United States and suggest lines of research. From the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), the authors selected crashes in which a driver aged 21 or older was driving at least one child younger than age 15. The study identified crashes that occurred at different times of the day in which the driver was speeding, ran a red light, or was alcohol positive. The authors described the drivers' demographics and examined how they relate to the different crash types. The study showed that, although driving a child seems to protect against the studied forms of risky driving, such protection varies sharply depending upon the drivers' and children's demographics and the crash type. There is no clear reason to explain the drivers' decision to endanger the children that they drive. The percent of children killed in speeding-related and red-light running motor-vehicle crashes has remained relatively stable during the last decade. Future research must (a) examine the effectiveness of current child endangerment laws; (b) examine crashes other than fatal; and (c) be more targeted, looking at specific drivers' age and gender, specific children's ages, the time of the crash, and the type of crash. The authors recommend that significant attention needs to be given towards improving state laws on child endangerment. Policymakers’ reaction to this problem is tentative because of the limited understanding of the problem; therefore, further research is needed.


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  • Accession Number: 01531719
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Apr 3 2014 12:35PM