The good news is that driving has gotten safer. The death rate among children in car accidents dropped 43 percent from 2002 to 2011.
Dr. Erin Sauber-Schatz studies transportation safety at the CDC.
She says the study didn’t examine why fatality rates have gone down, but it makes sense given improvements in technology:
“We know that car seats have gotten safer, cars themselves have gotten safer.”
The economy may also have played a role, as well as new state laws that require teenagers to move through a number of learning stages before getting a license.
But the study also shows a huge problem remains.
More than 9,000 children died in car crashes over the decade leading up to 2011. Of the kids who died, a third were not restrained by a car seat, booster, or seat belt.
The problem was worse among minorities.
“Forty-six percent of Hispanic and forty-five percent of black children who died in motor vehicle crashes were not buckled up, and this is compared with 26 percent of white children. We were not able to look at the reasons for not buckling up. However, we do know from previous research that socioeconomic status can blame a role in whether or not a family has a car seat, and buckles.”
CDC officials called for an expansion of programs that give away free car seats.
They also say more states should follow the lead of Tennessee and Wyoming, which mandate the use of car seats through the age of 8.
Pediatricians should also play a role by asking about car-seat use.