(HealthDay News) — Alcohol-impaired driving is still a substantial threat to the safety of child passengers, according to a study published online May 5 in Pediatrics.

Kyran Quinlan, MD, MPH, from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, and colleagues used data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (2001–2010) to document trends among child passengers aged <15 years killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes. A blood alcohol concentration of ≥0.08g/dL was used to define driver impairment.

The researchers found that 2,344 children aged <15 years were killed in crashes involving one or more alcohol-impaired drivers during 2001–2010. In 65% of these cases, children were riding with an impaired driver. Over the decade there was a 41% decrease in annual deaths among children riding with an alcohol-impaired driver. In state-level analysis of 37 states, Texas (272) and California (135) had the most children killed while riding with an impaired driver, while the highest annualized child passenger death rates were seen in South Dakota and New Mexico (0.98 and 0.86 per 100,000 children, respectively). At the time of the crash 61% of child passengers were unrestrained and one-third of the impaired drivers did not have a valid driver’s license.

“To make further progress, states and communities could consider increased use of effective interventions and efforts aimed specifically at protecting child passengers from impaired drivers,” the authors write.

Full Text