State laws, restraints help prevent child traffic deaths

From 2010 to 2014, Rhode Island had the lowest number of child fatalities from motor vehicle accidents and the fifth-lowest child mortality rate per 100,000 annually compared to other states. In a study conducted by Harvard University and University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center researchers, traffic fatalities by state for children under 15 were examined for that period. One of the significant findings of the study was that there was a large disparity in fatalities from region to region and state to state. The South had the largest number of child deaths with 1,550 while the Northeast had the smallest with 189. A total of 2,885 children died over the period.

Another significant finding was that a lack of restraints or improper restraints, such as seat belts and car seats, was a factor in many child deaths. In 20 percent of fatalities, children were not restrained or were restrained improperly. Riding in the front seat improperly was a factor in 13 percent of fatalities.

A compliance with restraints that was 10 percent higher would reduce deaths annually by more than 230. One of the researchers pointed out that these findings highlighted the importance of rewriting weak regulations and enforcing laws.

Even when children and adults are properly restrained, car accidents might still lead to serious injuries. Another driver might be driving under the influence, drowsy or distracted. A person who is injured or whose child is injured in such an accident might expect compensation from insurance to cover the costs of medical treatment and vehicle repair, but this may not be the case. The other driver might be uninsured or underinsured, or the compensation offered might simply be inadequate. An attorney could attempt to negotiate more compensation from an insurance company, or a lawsuit could be filed.

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