Welcome to Best Practices in Prevention Oriented Child Death Review

Motor Vehicle Occupant Injury

List of Potential Interventions




Deaths from motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children over the age of one. According to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration, every day during 2007 an average of 5 children 14 years old or younger died from injuries resulting from motor vehicle crashes.1  In 2005, twelve teens, 16 to 19 years old, died every day from motor vehicle injuries.2

For children under age of 16, seat belt, safety seat and booster seat use play a significant role in preventing these deaths. When correctly installed and used, child safety seats reduce the risk of injury and death resulting from motor vehicle accidents.  Child safety seats reduce the risk of death in passenger cars by 71% for infants and by 54% for toddlers ages 1 to 4 years.1 Child restraint systems also must be correctly installed to provide the greatest protection.  One study observed nearly 3,500 observed car and booster seats.  Of these, 72.6% were improperly used which could increase a child’s risk of injury during a crash.3

For teens, seat belt use, alcohol, driving experience and the numbers of other teen passengers are factors highly related to motor vehicle crash deaths. In 2006, 77% of teen drivers who were drinking and were killed in motor vehicle crashes were not wearing a seat belt.2 In 2006, 25% of drivers ages 15 to 20 who died in motor vehicle crashes had a BAC of 0.08 g/dl or higher.2  The risk to teens is also increased by their lack of driving experience, especially during the first year in which teenagers are licensed to drive.4   The risk of crashes is especially increased with multiple teen passengers in a car driven by a teen.

Many of the recommended and the promising strategies for preventing deaths from motor vehicle crashes focus on the use of safety restraints, reducing impaired driving and for adolescents-implementing graduated licensing requirements. 


  1. Department of Transportation (US), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Traffic Safety Facts 2006: Children. Washington (DC): NHTSA; 2008.
  2. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Dept. of Transportation (US). Traffic safety facts 2006: young drivers. Washington (DC): NHTSA; 2006b Available from URL: www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/810630.PDF [cited 2009 Aug 4].
  3. Department of Transportation (US), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Traffic Safety Facts Research Note 2005: Misuse of Child Restraints: Results of a Workshop to Review Field Data Results. Washington (DC): NHTSA; 2006. Available from URL: http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/people/injury/research/TSF_ MisuseChildRetraints/images/809851.pdf. [cited 2009 Aug 9.]
  4. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Fatality facts: teenagers 2005. Arlington (VA): The Institute; 2006 [cited 2009 Aug 4].