Children in fatal crashes: driver blood alcohol concentration and demographics of child passengers and their drivers

Addiction. 2002 Nov;97(11):1439-48. doi: 10.1046/j.1360-0443.2002.t01-2-00267.x.


Aims: This study examines whether differences in two risk factors for crash-related injury for children-riding with a drinking driver and failure to use restraints-are related to various driver characteristics such as age, gender, ethnicity and drinking.

Design, participants, measurements: Data on driver blood alcohol concentration (BAC), use of restraints and certain demographics were drawn from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System. Ethnicity data came from the Multiple Cause of Death File and socioeconomic information from the US Census. The use of restraints by child passengers and the drinking of alcohol by adult drivers are examined as a function of age, gender and membership of five racial/ethnic groups: White American, Black American, Native American, Asian/Pacific Islander American and Hispanic American. This study covers 160,770 drivers and 12,266 children younger than 16 years killed in motor vehicle crashes from January 1,1990 to December 31,1996.

Findings: As might be expected, analyses of fatally injured drivers showed that, compared with men, women were more likely to be accompanied by children at the time of their crash, but those children were more likely to be restrained than if travelling with men. Drivers who had been drinking at the time of their crash were less likely to be transporting children and those children were less likely to be restrained. Analyses of killed children indicated that some ethnic groups, compared with White drivers, were more likely to be BAC-positive and children were less likely to be restrained.

Conclusions: These findings underscore the continuing need to understand cultural factors in traffic safety and develop and disseminate culturally appropriate education programs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / mortality*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects*
  • Alcohol Drinking / mortality
  • Automobile Driving / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Risk Factors
  • Seat Belts / statistics & numerical data*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States / epidemiology