Last Updated: February 2019
Author: Injury Prevention Program Team, Vermont Department of Health
More children and adolescents die from injuries and violence than all diseases combined, and injuries are a leading cause of disability. Every year, one in nine young people is injured seriously enough to require medical attention, and nearly 320,000 hospitalizations (1) occur due to these injuries. Injuries are a leading cause of medical spending for children and adolescents, a burden estimated at $4 billion (2) in annual healthcare costs for hospitalizations alone. Suffering a serious injury can have a major impact on a child’s ability to live to their full potential, often leading to a lifetime of special health care needs that change the life course of both the child and their family.
1 Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS), 2010.
2 Figure derived from 2005 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cost estimates applied to 2012 hospitalization counts reported via National Electronic Injury Surveillance system (NEISS)
Research has shown that correctly using an appropriate child restraint or seat belt is the single most effective way to save lives and reduce injuries in crashes. Lap and shoulder combination seat belts, when used, reduce the risk of fatal injury to front-seat passenger car occupants by 45% and the risk of moderate-to-critical injury by 50% (NHTSA, 2001). For light-truck occupants, seat belts reduce the risk of fatal injury by 60% and moderate-to-critical injury by 65% (NHTSA, 2009a). NHTSA estimates that correctly used child restraints are even more effective than seat belts in reducing fatalities. Child restraints reduce fatalities by 71% for infants younger than 1 year old and by 54% for children 1 to 4 years old in passenger cars. In light trucks, the fatality reductions are 58% for infants and 59% for children 1 to 4 years old (NHTSA, 1996). In addition, research conducted by the Partners for Child Passenger Safety Program at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia found that belt-positioning booster seats reduce the risk of injury to children 4 to 8 in crashes by 45% when compared to the effectiveness of seat belts alone (Arbogast, Jermakian, Kallan & Durbin, 2009).