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Objectives: To describe the trip characteristics of vehicle crashes involving children, and to examine the effect of situational factors on front row seating or inappropriate restraint for young children.
Methods: A cross sectional study was conducted on children <16 years in crashes of insured vehicles in 15 US states, with data collected using insurance claims records and a telephone interview. A descriptive analysis of the characteristics of vehicle crashes involving children was performed. Multivariate Poisson regression was used to identify situational factors associated with inappropriate restraint or front row seating.
Results: These data suggest that children were traveling in vehicles involved in crashes that occurred under usual driving circumstances—that is, closer to home (60%), on a local road (56%), during normal daytime hours (71%), within areas with relatively lower posted speed limits (76%). Compared with children involved in morning crashes, those in daytime crashes (RR = 1.65, 95% CI 1.13 to 2.49) or in night-time crashes (RR = 1.63, 95% CI 1.09 to 2.67) were more likely to be sitting in the front seat. Children involved in night-time crashes were more likely to be inappropriately restrained (RR = 1.12, 95% CI 1.01 to 1.22) than those in daytime crashes. Children riding with two or more additional passengers were more likely to be inappropriately restrained (RR = 1.12, 95% CI 1.02 to 1.27) than those with no other passengers.
Conclusions: Educational initiatives should aim to increase the perception that parents have about the potential crash risk of everyday trips. Some situational characteristics of trips were associated with inappropriate restraint and front row seating behaviors for young children.