A new study that looks at U.S. Department of Transportation data finds that drunk driving remains a significant cause of child deaths for children under 15 in the United States. The researchers looked at National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data over ten years from 2001 to 2010 during which over 2300 children were killed.
In Texas, 272 children died in crashes linked to drunk drivers, and in California the number was 135 deaths, the second highest in the country. Sixty five percent of children killed in such crashes were riding in the car driven by the drunk driver implicated in the accident.
The researchers found that most of the children killed by drunk drivers were not in car restraints at the time of the crash and one third of the drunk drivers involved in accidents did not have a valid driver’s license.
While deaths in children linked to drunk drivers actually decreased 41 percent over the year study period, the researchers, from Northwestern University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, say much more can be done to further reduce such deaths. “A coordinated strategy that includes further developing and testing of targeted measures and strong enforcement of existing laws aimed at reducing alcohol-impaired driving and promoting child restraint is likely to best protect child passengers from alcohol-impaired drivers,” say the study authors.
The study was published in Pediatrics.