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July 5, 2002
Contact: CDC, National Center for Injury Control
and Prevention
(770) 4884902

Fact Sheet

Injuries/Deaths of children left unattended
in or around motor vehicles

From July 1, 2000 through June 30 2001, an estimated 9,160 children aged 14 years and younger with nonfatal injuries were treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments. At least 78 children in that age range lost their lives in, or near, motor vehicles not in traffic. Many of these children suffered an injury or were killed when a motor vehicle backed over or ran over them. Others died when they were left inside a motor vehicle on a hot day. Drivers need to be alert when pulling out or backing out of a driveway or parking lot, and children should not be left unattended inside or near a motor vehicle even for a few seconds.

Key findings include:

  • For 48% of nonfatal injury-related incidents and 71% of injury deaths, the motor vehicle was located near a home.
  • The predominant types of events resulting in nonfatal injuries were being struck by a motor vehicle (37%), being run over or backed over by a motor vehicle (30%) and falling out of a moving motor vehicle or falling off of the back of a pick-up truck (19%).
  • The major types of events leading to death were when a child was left in a motor vehicle in hot weather (35%), when a child was backed over by a motor vehicle (27%), and when a child placed a motor vehicle in motion (13%).
  • While a majority of nonfatal injuries (59%) occurred to children aged 5-14 years, most injury deaths (82%) occurred to children less than 4 years of age.
  • Males (62%) were more likely than females (38%) to be treated for nonfatal injuries in U.S. hospital emergency departments.

Notes to the Editor:

  • Nonfatal data are from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System All Injury Program operated by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in collaboration with the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, CDC. National estimates provided in this report are derived from injured children treated in a national probability sample of U.S. hospital emergency departments.
  • Death data are from a database developed by KIDS 'N CARSTM, a program of the non-profit Trauma Foundation, San Francisco, California. The numbers of deaths presented in this report are not national estimates but do represent deaths occurring across the country.

This MMWR article is available online at: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr. For additional information from CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control visit: http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc.


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