Priority 1: Passenger Safety – Occupant Protection & Teen Driving

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Occupant Protection:
From 2006-09, motor vehicle crashes remained the leading cause of injury death for Ohio children ages 5 to 9 and the third-leading cause for ages 1 to 4.1 From 1999 to 2007, at least 58 Ohio children under the age of 8 were killed as occupants in motor vehicle traffic crashes.2

Proper use of child safety seats and booster seats is one of the most important preventive measures to reduce motor vehicle-related death and injury; yet it remains a challenge in Ohio. Using a booster seat instead of a seat belt alone reduces the risk of death in a crash by 59%.3 In 2007, Ohio’s booster seat use rate for children aged 4 to 7 was only 18%, one of the lowest in the country.4

The CDC Task Force on Community Preventive Services recommends primary child restraint laws based on strong evidence of their effectiveness. This means that law enforcement are able to stop and cite drivers for failure to properly restrain a child in a child restraint or booster seat as required by law. Proper enforcement combined with education and safety seat distribution programs provide the greatest evidence of success in reducing these preventable deaths among children.

Teen Driving:
In Ohio, motor vehicle crashes kill more teens than any other cause of death. In 2010, 114 youth occupants aged 16 – 20 were killed and 16,041 were injured in crashes, according to the 20101 Ohio Traffic Crash Report. These figures represent 11.5 percent and 15.1 percent of the total motor vehicle-related deaths and injuries, respectively, among Ohioans of all ages in 2010. Of the deaths, 73 were to drivers and 41 to passengers. In 2010, 160 youthful drivers aged 16-20 were involved in fatal crashes, 18,946 were involved in injury crashes and 48,378 were involved in property damage crashes.

Speed, alcohol use, driving at night and distractions including cell phones/texting and multiple passengers are all risk factors for motor vehicle crashes among teens. Graduated driver’s license (GDL) laws have been proven an effective way to reduce death and injury for teen drivers. A strong GDL is designed to maximize a new drivers experience while minimizing the risk.

Most GDL laws include a three-step approach including: supervised driving with a parent or other adult for at least 12 months, with practice at nighttime and in inclement weather. Teens are at a very low risk when they drive with an adult. The second phase should include restrictions during the provisional stage, when the teen is just beginning to drive without an adult including passenger limits and restricted driving hours. After successful completion of the second phase, the teen is a fully licensed driver.

Reduce motor vehicle child occupant death and injury among children