Objective: Road safety constitutes a crisis with important health and economic impacts. In 2010, 11,000 pedestrians and 3500 bicyclists were injured by motor vehicles in New York City (NYC). Motor vehicle injuries represent the second leading cause of injury-related deaths in NYC children aged 5 to 14 years. To better target injury prevention strategies, we evaluated demographics, behaviors, environmental factors, injuries, and outcomes of pediatric pedestrians and bicyclists struck by motor vehicles in NYC.
Methods: Pediatric data were extracted from a prospectively collected database of pedestrians and bicyclists struck by motor vehicles and treated at a level I regional trauma center between December 2008 and June 2011. Patients, guardians, and first responders were interviewed and medical records were reviewed. Institutional review board approval was granted and verbal consent was obtained.
Results: Of the 1457 patients, 168 (12%) were younger than 18 years. Compared with injured adults, children were more likely to be in male sex (69% vs 53%), to have minor injuries (83% vs 73% for injury severity scores of <9), and to be discharged without admission (69% vs 67%). Midblock crossings were more common in children pedestrians than in adults (37% vs 19%), often despite supervision (48%). Electronic device use among teenagers aged 13 to 17 years was nearly 3 times that of adults (28% vs 11%).
Conclusions: Risky behaviors are common among pediatric pedestrians and bicyclists injured by motor vehicles. Road safety education and prevention strategies must stress compliance with traffic laws, readdress the importance of supervision, and reinforce avoidance of common distractors including electronic devices.