Fatality Facts 2018Children

Overview

Deaths of children younger than 13 in motor vehicle crashes have declined since 1975, but crashes still cause 1 of every 4 unintentional injury deaths. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. 2019. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS), 2017 fatal injury data. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available: http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/index.html. Most crash deaths occur among children traveling as passenger vehicle occupants, and proper restraint use can reduce these fatalities. Restraining children in rear seats instead of front seats reduces fatal injury risk by about three-quarters for children up to age 3, and almost half for children ages 4 to 8. Durbin, D.R.; Jermakian, J.S.; Kallan, M.J.; McCartt, A.T.; Arbogast, K.B.; Zonfrillo, M.R.; and Myers, R.K. 2015. Rear seat safety: variation in protection by occupant, crash and vehicle characteristics. Accident Analysis and Prevention 80:185-92.

All 50 states and the District of Columbia have child restraint laws on the books. However, even though more children now ride restrained because of these laws, many children, particularly those 4 and older, still ride unrestrained. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 2018. The 2017 national survey of the use of booster seats. Report no. DOT HS-812-617. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Transportation.Nineteen states have laws requiring children to sit in the rear, but there is considerable variation among the laws based on the child's age, height, weight and whether the vehicle has frontal airbags. The District of Columbia and all states except Oklahoma require all child occupants younger than 13, including those sitting in the rear, to be restrained.

The following facts are based on analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).

Posted December 2019.

Age and gender

In 1975 infants (younger than 1) had a much higher passenger vehicle occupant fatality rate per capita than children of other ages, but this gap narrowed over the years. Since 1975 fatality rates dropped 75 percent for infants, 68 percent for children ages 1-3, 54 percent for children ages 4-8, and 50 percent for children ages 9-12.

Passenger vehicle child occupant deaths per million children by age, 1975-2018

Passenger vehicle child occupant deaths per million children by age, 1975-2018
Year<1 year1-3 years4-8 years9-12 years
PopulationDeathsRatePopulationDeathsRatePopulationDeathsRatePopulationDeathsRate
1975 3,152,345 190 60.3 9,333,943 395 42.3 17,579,867 451 25.7 15,785,149 348 22.0
1976 3,115,391 173 55.5 9,166,175 393 42.9 17,444,438 436 25.0 15,274,700 341 22.3
1977 3,278,804 188 57.3 9,129,735 412 45.1 17,194,329 459 26.7 14,734,464 346 23.5
1978 3,326,388 192 57.7 9,317,815 406 43.6 16,838,903 455 27.0 14,424,361 342 23.7
1979 3,426,309 171 49.9 9,461,992 384 40.6 16,465,482 473 28.7 14,425,176 303 21.0
1980 3,559,861 190 53.4 9,763,803 396 40.6 15,994,363 403 25.2 14,596,315 342 23.4
1981 3,607,455 172 47.7 10,011,438 332 33.2 15,894,690 401 25.2 14,536,357 284 19.5
1982 3,643,586 164 45.0 10,287,129 352 34.2 15,997,832 365 22.8 14,203,049 277 19.5
1983 3,649,198 157 43.0 10,499,379 353 33.6 16,268,975 372 22.9 13,701,745 252 18.4
1984 3,571,921 132 37.0 10,605,208 301 28.4 16,592,564 377 22.7 13,208,351 271 20.5
1985 3,678,657 130 35.3 10,594,540 326 30.8 17,015,987 385 22.6 12,970,952 290 22.4
1986 3,699,568 130 35.1 10,653,722 360 33.8 17,338,168 409 23.6 13,063,996 289 22.1
1987 3,703,294 160 43.2 10,725,924 387 36.1 17,651,459 467 26.5 13,267,570 298 22.5
1988 3,756,541 183 48.7 10,882,631 385 35.4 17,801,235 484 27.2 13,502,559 302 22.4
1989 3,858,435 183 47.4 10,981,085 402 36.6 17,938,226 526 29.3 13,912,858 358 25.7
1990 3,987,662 162 40.6 11,168,053 343 30.7 18,082,010 447 24.7 14,234,802 316 22.2
1991 4,009,515 143 35.7 11,468,844 339 29.6 18,154,546 442 24.3 14,607,842 310 21.2
1992 3,982,857 127 31.9 11,739,325 349 29.7 18,296,744 442 24.2 14,884,742 315 21.2
1993 3,908,335 152 38.9 11,898,416 361 30.3 18,612,278 431 23.2 14,916,835 277 18.6
1994 3,854,882 160 41.5 11,821,298 379 32.1 18,958,858 486 25.6 15,057,424 319 21.2
1995 3,813,169 153 40.1 11,668,778 346 29.7 19,309,487 484 25.1 15,129,050 356 23.5
1996 3,769,544 178 47.2 11,499,426 346 30.1 19,610,009 486 24.8 15,206,209 336 22.1
1997 3,779,543 133 35.2 11,371,094 327 28.8 19,788,553 502 25.4 15,425,793 368 23.9
1998 3,790,645 138 36.4 11,301,476 304 26.9 19,814,280 512 25.8 15,621,075 379 24.3
1999 3,819,903 142 37.2 11,269,665 310 27.5 19,629,729 497 25.3 15,947,842 362 22.7
2000 3,867,754 131 33.9 11,425,866 311 27.2 20,146,324 458 22.7 16,779,479 364 21.7
2001 4,025,873 106 26.3 11,497,211 290 25.2 19,875,164 450 22.6 16,943,147 333 19.7
2002 3,984,989 107 26.9 11,733,679 272 23.2 19,662,203 405 20.6 16,951,435 347 20.5
2003 4,033,482 120 29.8 11,922,039 265 22.2 19,522,343 401 20.5 16,709,738 328 19.6
2004 4,077,188 121 29.7 12,086,916 301 24.9 19,473,829 406 20.8 16,513,473 345 20.9
2005 4,106,627 119 29.0 12,135,517 247 20.4 19,614,024 417 21.3 16,293,227 294 18.0
2006 4,130,153 115 27.8 12,265,881 247 20.1 19,809,458 375 18.9 16,101,416 276 17.1
2007 4,257,020 96 22.6 12,403,983 225 18.1 20,011,375 335 16.7 15,913,431 249 15.6
2008 4,313,132 78 18.1 12,568,765 163 13.0 20,289,522 269 13.3 15,758,360 189 12.0
2009 4,261,494 69 16.2 12,857,476 180 14.0 20,780,673 288 13.9 15,853,769 219 13.8
2010 3,944,153 59 15.0 12,194,039 178 14.6 20,263,474 256 12.6 16,541,552 160 9.7
2011 3,996,537 59 14.8 12,043,067 157 13.0 20,421,665 252 12.3 16,488,839 188 11.4
2012 3,943,077 54 13.7 11,943,920 191 16.0 20,523,946 237 11.5 16,461,629 159 9.7
2013 3,941,783 49 12.4 11,934,615 162 13.6 20,458,936 250 12.2 16,388,386 179 10.9
2014 3,948,350 47 11.9 11,925,085 135 11.3 20,416,182 249 12.2 16,376,512 173 10.6
2015 3,978,038 50 12.6 11,909,208 173 14.5 20,373,647 256 12.6 16,486,202 189 11.5
2016 3,955,377 63 15.9 11,976,334 178 14.9 20,238,765 284 14.0 16,597,194 205 12.4
2017 3,939,295 76 19.3 12,003,782 173 14.4 20,127,850 249 12.4 16,668,005 186 11.2
2018 3,848,208 59 15.3 11,940,899 160 13.4 20,161,532 238 11.8 16,610,847 182 11.0

In 2018, passenger vehicle occupants accounted for the majority of motor vehicle crash deaths for all age groups of children. Pedestrian fatalities accounted for 10 percent of crash deaths for children younger than 1, 22 percent for ages 1-3, 16 percent for ages 4-8, and 19 percent for ages 9-12. Children ages 4-8 and 9-12 had a larger percentage (4 percent) of bicycle fatalities than younger children. Children ages 4-8 had the largest percentage (3 percent) of all-terrain vehicle fatalities.

Child motor vehicle crash deaths by type and age, 2018
AgePassenger vehicle occupantsMotorcyclists Pedestrians Bicyclists All-terrain vehicle riders Other Total motor vehicle deaths*
Number%Number%Number%Number%Number%Number%Number%
<1 59 88 00 7 10 00 00 1 1 67 100
1-3 160 73 1 0 49 22 3 1 00 6 3 219 100
4-8 238 73 1 0 51 16 12 4 9 3 13 4 324 100
9-12 182 67 3 1 50 19 11 4 6 2 18 7 270 100
Total* 639 73 5 1 157 18 26 3 15 2 38 4 880 100

The rate of motor vehicle crash deaths per million children in 2018 was 3 percent higher for males than for females.

Motor vehicle crash deaths per million children younger than 13 by gender, 2018
GenderNumber of childrenDeathsRate
Male 26,859,496 456 17.0
Female 25,701,990 424 16.5
Total* 52,561,486 880 16.7

Fifty-two percent of children younger than 13 who were killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2018 were male. The gender difference in fatalities was greater among child bicyclists (69 percent males, 31 percent females) than among child pedestrians (59 percent males, 41 percent females). More females (51 percent) than males (49 percent) were killed as occupants of passenger vehicles.

Motor vehicle crash deaths among children younger than 13 by type and gender, 2018
Male Female Total*
Number%Number%Number%
Passenger vehicle occupants 312 49 327 51 639 100
Pedestrians 93 59 64 41 157 100
Bicyclists 18 69 8 31 26 100
Total* 456 52 424 48 880 100

Restraint use

The proportion of fatally injured children who are restrained has risen greatly during the past 33 years, from 15 percent in 1985 to 60 percent in 2018. According to a national observational survey, restraint use among children younger than 13 years was 90.1 percent in 2017.National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 2018. The 2017 national survey of the use of booster seats. Report no. DOT HS-812-617. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Transportation.Unrestrained vehicle occupants are more likely than restrained occupants to be fatally injured in a crash, so restraint use is much lower among fatally injured occupants.

Restraint use among fatally injured children in passenger vehicles by age, 1985
AgeUnrestrained Seat belt Child safety seat Total restrained Unknown Total
Number%Number%Number%Number%Number%Number%
<1 85 65 2 2 29 22 31 24 14 11 130 100
1-3 230 71 18 6 55 17 73 22 23 7 326 100
4-8 267 69 41 11 7 2 48 12 70 18 385 100
9-12 223 77 21 700 21 7 46 16 290 100
Total 805 71 82 7 91 8 173 15 153 14 1,131 100
Restraint use among fatally injured children in passenger vehicles by age, 2018
AgeUnrestrained Seat belt Child safety seat Total restrained Unknown Total
Number%Number%Number%Number%Number%Number%
<1 9 1500 45 76 45 76 5 8 59 100
1-3 38 24 10 6 99 62 109 68 13 8 160 100
4-8 68 29 63 26 79 33 142 60 28 12 238 100
9-12 78 43 85 47 2 1 87 48 17 9 182 100
Total 193 30 158 25 225 35 383 60 63 10 639 100

When they died

More children were killed in motor vehicle crashes on Saturdays in 2018 (17 percent) than on any other day of the week.

Motor vehicle crash deaths among children younger than 13 by day of week, 2018
Day of weekDeaths%
Sunday 142 16
Monday 123 14
Tuesday 117 13
Wednesday 103 12
Thursday 106 12
Friday 143 16
Saturday 146 17
Total 880 100

Twenty-four percent of the deaths of children in motor vehicle crashes in 2018 occurred between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. and 20 percent occurred between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.

Motor vehicle crash deaths among children younger than 13 by time of day, 2018
Time of dayNumber%
Midnight - 3 a.m. 55 6
3 a.m. - 6 a.m. 25 3
6 a.m. - 9 a.m. 102 12
9 a.m. - noon 86 10
Noon - 3 p.m. 137 16
3 p.m. - 6 p.m. 207 24
6 p.m. - 9 p.m. 178 20
9 p.m. - midnight 87 10
Total* 880 100

The proportion of children killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2018 was greater during the months of May, June and July (10 percent each month) compared with other months of the year.

Motor vehicle crash deaths among children younger than 13 by month, 2018
MonthNumber%
January 60 7
February 60 7
March 67 8
April 80 9
May 87 10
June 92 10
July 86 10
August 74 8
September 70 8
October 72 8
November 59 7
December 73 8
Total 880 100