Reducing highway deaths for children and teens.
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens and children. In 2009, 1,062 children under 13 died in motor vehicle crashes, which is an increase of 1 percent from 2008 even though the total number of fatalities declined. Deaths of children that occur in the front seat have been reduced significantly since 1975 and are now down to 18 percent, but the 72 percent share of rear seat deaths could be due to improper use or installation of child safety seats, not using them at all, or lack of seat belt use. Not all states have the same laws on child restraint systems and some are stricter than others.
Studies have shown that child safety seats can reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71 percent for infants and 54 percent for toddlers. They key is to educate people on the proper use of restraints, ages for each stage of seat use, provide installation tips, and remind drivers that all children under 13 should ride in the back seat buckled up.
Teens drive less than almost all age groups (besides older people), but crash deaths are disproportionately high due to the combination of immaturity and lack of experience. Graduated licensing laws have been instrumental in helping reduce deaths of teens. Last year, Congress introduced a bill called the Safe Teen and Novice Driver Uniform Protection Act (STAND UP), which would establish minimum requirements for GDL programs in all 50 states. Studies have shown that in states that have adopted GDL laws, crash rates have declined between 10 and 30 percent.