Texas is the most dangerous place for children to ride in a motor vehicle, according to a new study.
Go Safe Labs, a non-profit transportation safety group, recently completed a national traffic safety study revealing the top 10 least safe states for car accidents involving children. The study not only revealed the most dangerous states, it also determined that children are more likely to be involved in car accidents in rural versus urban areas.
“We want Americans to have the traffic safety data they need to keep their children safe in passenger vehicles. As families move across regions and state lines because of the pandemic, this report is intended to raise awareness of areas that data shows are less safe for children riding in cars,” said Kevin Pomplun, chairman of Go Safe Labs.
The group reviewed publicly available data from government sources involving more than 300,000 people involved in fatal accidents, finding the top 10 states with the most child injuries or fatalities between 2015-2018 were Texas, California, Florida, Indiana, Georgia, North Carolina, Alabama, Illinois, Arizona and Ohio.
Texas, however, was the leader by a substantial margin. The Lone Star State had 1,172 child fatalities, which was 400 more California, which recorded 771 fatalities among children. Significantly 685 fatalities in Texas occurred on rural roads where pickup trucks are often the preferred vehicles.
“We hope this data reminds parents to always use the appropriate car seats for their children. We urge lawmakers to work with community organizations and the private sector to make America’s roadways safer for children,” Pomplun said.
Go Safe Labs’ research found overall more children were injured or killed in rural accidents than urban ones, 57% versus 43%. Additionally, the degree of child injury severity differed by road geography: nearly two-thirds of the children severely injured across the nation between 2015-2018 were in rural areas (63% rural to 37% urban).
The firm was quick to note the data shouldn’t be interpreted as suggesting rural drivers are most at risk, since accidents may be attributed to cross-travel between states and between rural and urban areas. It recommended further study to determine if that is the case.
The firm did have some recommendations for improving child safety, including ensuring “age- and size-appropriate child safety seats … be universally accessible to all families.” Additionally, strengthening existing child passenger safety laws as well as offering free classes on how to properly install a child seat would also make a substantive difference in fatality rates.
“Rural families have less access to in-person seat check events, so we’re hopeful that virtual car seat checks, which are gaining in popularity due to COVID-19, will be able to help reach this audience. We must protect our most precious assets: our children,” Jen Saxton, Child Passenger Safety technician and founder of Tot Squad.