Pedestrian Safety

Each year, approximately 630 child pedestrian fatalities occur; children sustain more than 39,000 nonfatal pedestrian injuries each year. Approximately 70 percent of pedestrian deaths are motor vehicle-related. Males sustain almost two-thirds of all child pedestrian deaths.

On average, 12 children die each year in school bus-related crashes.  Four out of 5 driveway-related incidents occur to children ages 4 and under.

Policies that increase the number of people walking and bicycling have shown to be an effective method for improving the safety of people walking and bicycling. State and local laws created to protect child pedestrians include:

Lower speed limits in residential areas

Protection of pedestrians in crosswalks

Providing pedestrian walkways

Prohibition of vehicles from passing school buses while loading and unloading passengers

Providing crossing guards and requiring pedestrians to not cross streets at locations other than designated crosswalks

Drowning and Water-Related Safety

Each year, more than 830 children ages 14 and under die as a result of unintentional drowning. On average, an annual 360 injuries occur to children due to a near-drowning incident.

Home swimming pools are the most common site for a drowning to occur for a child between the ages 1 to 4 years. According to a national study of drowning-related incidents involving children, a parent or caregiver claimed to be supervising the child in nearly 9 out of 10 child drowning-related deaths.

Four-sided isolation fencing around home pools could prevent 50 to 90 percent of childhood drowning and near-drownings. When used properly, door alarms, pool alarms and automatic pool covers add extra protection. Educational efforts focused on PFDs (personal flotation device) and safe boating practices are effective in increasing PFD usage.

Children at High Risk

Unintentional injury is the number one killer of children ages 1-14 in the United States. The leading causes of injury death to children are motor vehicle crashes, drowning, suffocation, fires and/or burns and pedestrian-related incidents.

Children ages 4 and under are at greater risk of unintentional injury-related death; among children under 14 years of age, children less than 4 years account for approximately half of all unintentional injury deaths.

Children from low-income families experience more fatalities than children from families with greater economic resources. Children living in rural areas (especially minority children) are at significantly greater risk from unintentional injury-related death than children living in urban areas.

Preventative Strategies

Reducing or eliminating the financial barriers to attaining safety devices (e.g. smoke alarms, bicycle helmets, car seats, and booster seats)

Increasing educational efforts directed toward children who are at high risk for injury

Improving the overall safety of the child’s surrounding environment

Fire Safety

Each year, approximately 488 children ages 14 and under die in residential fires. Fires and burns are the third leading cause of unintentional death among children aged 1-14 years. When a child is injured or dies from a residential fire, a smoke alarm is not working or not present in two-thirds of these occurrences.  Having a working smoke alarm reduces one’s changes of dying in a fire by nearly half.

Smoking materials (e.g. cigarettes) are the leading cause of fire-related death and the fourth leading cause of fire-related injury in homes. Home cooking equipment is the leading cause of injuries in residential fires.

On average, a $33 smoke alarm generates $940 in benefits to society. Smoke alarms and sprinkler systems combined could reduce fire-related deaths by 82 percent and injuries by 46 percent.

Each year in the United States, $280 million in property is destroyed by children playing with fire. The total annual cot of fire- and burn-related deaths among children ages 14 and under is more than $2.6 billion. Children ages 4 and under account for more than $1.4 billion of these costs.

To protect children from burns, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued regulations requiring that children’s sleepwear must be flame-resistant and self-extinguish if a flame causes it to catch fire. The rules cover all children’s sleepwear above 9 months and up to size 14. Children’s sleepwear must be either flame-resistant or be snug-fitting.

Motor Vehicle Safety

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death to children ages 2 to 14 and the leading cause of injury-related death for children under 2. When installed and used correctly, child safety seats and safety belts can prevent injuries and save lives. Young children restrained in child safety seats have an 80 percent lower risk of fatal injury than those who are unrestrained.

Children 2 to 5 years of age who are prematurely in seat belts are four times more likely to suffer a serious head injury in a crash than those restrained in child safety seats or booster seats. Child safety seats reduce fatal injury by 71 percent for infants (less than 1year old) and by 54 percent for toddlers (1 to 4 years old) in passenger cars.

Safety Interventions

Ensure that every occupant is properly restrained for every ride.

Always follow manufacturer’s instructions. Infants should ride in rear-facing child safety seats as long as possible (a minimum of 12 months old and 20 pounds).

Correctly secure children that weigh between 20 and 40 pounds in a forward facing child safety seat. Always use the safety tether for optimal protection.

 Correctly secure children over 40 pounds in a booster seat or other appropriate child restraint until the adult lap and shoulder safety belts fit correctly (approximately 4’9” and 80-100 pounds, usually between 8 and 12 years of age).

In and Around Vehicle Safety

Non-traffic related vehicle incidents are incidents that occur in places other than a public highway, street, or road. These incidents occur in driveways, parking lots, or off-road locations and may involve bicyclists, pedestrians, non-moving vehicles, or vehicles backing up.

Nearly 50 percent of the children injured in backover incidents were 1 to 4 years old; 55 percent were males. Most backovers occurred at either home or in driveways or parking lots; 47 percent occurred at home, and40 percent occurred in driveways or parking lots.

Each year, an average of 36 children dies from hyperthermia after being left unattended in a vehicle. Within 10 minutes, the inside temperature of a vehicle will be almost 20 degrees hotter than the outside temperature, after 30 minutes the vehicle’s temperature will be 34 degrees hotter.

Nine incidents of fatal car truck entrapments were reported from 1987 to 1998, resulting in 19 deaths to children less than 7 years of age. All of the incidents occurred in hot weather.