How to best protect children in side-impact crashes

September 13, 2005

Researchers at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia will present today a series of findings aimed at enhancing protection for children in side-impact car crashes at the Scientific Conference of the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine (AAAM). The findings demonstrate that children fare better in side-impact crashes if they are restrained and if they are seated with other occupants in the back seat, and they emphasize the protective benefits of high back booster seats in these crashes for 4-to 8-year-olds.

The original findings are based on real-world crash data from Partners for Child Passenger Safety (PCPS), a research partnership of Children's Hospital and State Farm Insurance Companies. In addition to the new findings, PCPS research being presented at the conference confirms that children riding in passenger cars and light truck vehicles, such as SUVs, are at increased risk of injury in a side-impact crash when their vehicle is struck by a light truck.

"Side impacts are the second most common fatal crash type after frontal crashes and require focused attention from the safety community," says Kristy Arbogast, Ph.D., Associate Director of Field Engineering, TraumaLink, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "Most importantly, we need to focus on the most vulnerable occupants-- children."

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 42 percent of child fatalities to rear-seated children ages 0 to 8 years occur in side-impact collisions. Overall, side-impact crashes kill about 300 American children under age 8 each year and result in more severe injuries at lower crash severities than frontal collisions.

The Children's Hospital researchers hope the new findings provide NHTSA and the auto industry with information that can be used to enhance performance testing and safety design that take into account the unique safety needs of child occupants. The recently passed SAFETEA (Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity) Act of 2005 requires NHTSA to upgrade its side-impact standard by July 1, 2008.

"In addition to providing new insights into child occupant safety in side-impact crashes, our findings demonstrate the effectiveness of using age- and size- appropriate restraints and rear seating in preventing injuries in this crash direction," said Kristy Arbogast. "Correct restraint use and rear-seating for children, this is the message we need to convey to parents."

Key findings from the PCPS research study that were presented at the AAAM Conference:

"Effectiveness of High Back and Backless Belt-Positioning Booster Seats in Side impact crashes" "Effect of Increased Rear Row Occupancy on Injury to Seat Belt Restrained Children in Side impact Crashes" "Effect of Vehicle Incompatibility on Child Occupant Injury Risk" For more information about safe practices for restraining children when traveling in a motor vehicle, including interactive videos on how to choose and install a child safety seat, visit www.chop.edu/carseat.
-end-
About Partners for Child Passenger Safety
Partners for Child Passenger Safety is a research collaboration between The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and State Farm. As of February 2005, PCPS has created a database containing information on more than 377,000 crashes involving more than 557,000 children from birth through age 15 years. It is the largest source of data on children in motor vehicle crashes. PCPS is based at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and is funded by State Farm. For more information, visit www.chop.edu/carseat.

About The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia was founded in 1855 as the nation's first pediatric hospital. Through its long-standing commitment to providing exceptional patient care, training new generations of pediatric healthcare professionals and pioneering major research initiatives, Children's Hospital has fostered many discoveries that have benefited children worldwide. Its pediatric research program is among the largest in the country, ranking second in National Institutes of Health funding. In addition, its unique family-centered care and public service programs have brought the 430-bed hospital recognition as a leading advocate for children and adolescents. For more information, visit www.chop.edu.

NOTE TO MEDIA: To access the full papers published by AAAM, media can visit the "media press room" at www.aaam.org.

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

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