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Children Lost to Fatal Motor Vehicle Accidents: A Look at the Latest Data & Statistics

NHTSA Statistics on Deadly Motor Vehicle Accidents Involving Children

NHTSA Statistics on Deadly Motor Vehicle Accidents Involving Children

Over the past decade, motor vehicle accidents have been the number one cause of death among children 14 and younger.1 Tragically, there are no signs of this trend reversing, according to the latest data from regulators at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).2

In fact, according to NHTSA’s most recent findings:

  • Since 2015, child motor vehicle crash deaths have increased by about 8 percent.
  • Texas leads the nation in fatal auto crashes involving children.

Revealing more about NHTSA’s latest findings, the following shares some key facts and data about the incidence and causes of fatal traffic accidents involving children.

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New NHTSA Statistics on Deadly Motor Vehicle Accidents Involving Children

These traffic accident statistics reflect findings and trends based on data collected for all 50 states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico for 2016 (the most recent year for which complete data is available). Please note that, as of March 2018, the NHTSA has not released injury estimates for motor vehicle accidents involving children:

  • Every day in the U.S., about 3 children are killed in motor vehicle crashes – This translates to more than 1,000 children being victimized by deadly auto wrecks every year in the U.S. As the NHTSA reports, in 2016, this number soared to 1,233 children being killed in fatal crashes. The vast majority of these deaths (about 60 percent) reportedly impacted children between the ages of 4 and 12 years old.
  • Most deadly motor vehicle accidents involving children occur in the late afternoon & evening hours – Specifically, most fatal wrecks involving children take place between 3 pm and 9 pm. During this timeframe, children are usually getting out of school and traveling home (or to extracurricular activities), and commuters are getting out of work – meaning that more children and more motorists are on the roads. Additionally, during the late afternoon and evening hours, visibility becomes poorer as day turns into dusk, then evening. This combination of factors makes the period from 3 pm to 9 pm the deadliest time for children to be on the roads. 
  • About 3 in every 4 of these fatalities impact children traveling in vehicles – While nearly 75 percent of the children killed in fatal traffic crashes were occupants of motor vehicles, about 25% were pedestrians or cyclists.
  • More than 1 in every 3 of child motor vehicle crash deaths involved an unrestrained child – About 38 of children killed in fatal wrecks were not restrained by a car seat, booster seat, or seatbelt at the time of the accident. Putting this into perspective, about 86 percent of children who survived deadly wrecks were properly restrained when the crash occurred. This reveals how taking the time to properly secure children in vehicles can make the difference between surviving versus suffering fatal injuries when serious crashes happen.
  • Alcohol impairment was a factor in nearly 1 in every 5 of these child fatalities – Alcohol impairment means at least one of the involved drivers had a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent at the time of the crash. In about 54 percent of these accidents, the children killed were passengers traveling with alcohol-impaired drivers. 

Keeping Children Safe on the Roads: 4 Essential Tips for Parents

While the above findings are concerning, if not grim, at least the last two uncover the fact that there ARE steps parents and any motorist can take to protect children and minimize the risks they can face on the roads. These steps include (and are not limited to) the following:

  1. Properly restrain children whenever they are traveling in vehicles – Proper restraints vary by a child’s age and/or weight. The NHTSA has put out detailed guidelines regarding how to appropriately restrain children in vehicles according to age and/or weight.3
  2. Register child car seats & promptly respond to any recalls – Registering child car seats with manufacturers can help you stay abreast of any recalls or problems associated with these seats. If you are notified of a recall for your child’s car seat, make sure to seek the proper remedy ASAP to avoid exposing your child to unnecessary risks.
  3. Teach children about pedestrian and cyclist safety – Watching out for vehicles, crossing streets after looking both ways, and only crossing when traffic signals permit are some rules of the road that children should be familiar with. Be sure to go over these safety tips with children on a regular basis, including on holidays like Halloween (when children may be pedestrians for longer periods of time during the highest risk hours for deadly crashes).
  4. Drive defensively – Comply with traffic laws, look out for children (especially around schools and playgrounds) and try to anticipate other motorists’ actions. Driving defensively, focused, and sober can help you minimize your – and children’s – crash risk.

Of course, no matter how careful, prepared, and safe you may be on the roads, you cannot control the actions or sobriety of other motorists. If another driver causes you or your child to be hurt in a motor vehicle accident, you can turn to the experienced Houston car accident lawyers at the Amaro Law Firm for help-seeking financial recovery and justice.

Find Out More about a Car Accident Claim: Contact a Houston Car Accident Attorney at the Amaro Law Firm Can

A Houston car accident attorney at the Amaro Law Firm is ready to discuss your potential claim, explain your options, and help you successfully navigate the road to recovery.

Call (713) 352-7975, text (281) 612-8024 or contact our firm for a free consultation.

Though money may never undo the permanent harm caused by serious auto crashes, these financial recoveries can be the key to restoring lives.

The Amaro Law Firm’s record of extraordinary representation and success in car crash claims has earned us glowing testimonials from former clients and 5-star ratings on Google and Facebook.


1: According to data from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)
2: NHTSA Fact Sheet on Children in Fatal Motor Vehicle Accidents
3: NHTSA Guidelines for Children Vehicle Restraints by Age