Informed Choices By Parents Can Prevent Serious Crash Injuries for Children, According to Researchers at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

05/2/2005

PHILADELPHIA, May 2 /PRNewswire/ -- Where children sit, what safety restraints are used and the type of vehicle all play major roles in protecting children from injury in car crashes. These findings are reinforced in a recent report on safe seating decisions for children issued by researchers at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia in conjunction with State Farm Insurance Companies(R) and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Released today, the CPS Issue Report: Safe Seating for Children, presents
recent findings from a research collaboration between Children's Hospital and State Farm. This ongoing research is the world's largest study of children in
motor vehicle crashes. Since 1998, more than 370,000 State Farm policyholders
have shared their crash experience with researchers at Children's Hospital, who are then able to determine the best ways to protect children in crashes.

"The single most important life-saving decision parents can make for their child is to use the rear seat and age- and size-appropriate restraint during every car ride, every time," said Flaura Winston, M.D., Ph.D., principal investigator of the Children's Hospital/State Farm study. "Crashes happen to the best of drivers and often on the most routine occasions like grocery shopping or picking the kids up from soccer practice. No one is immune from a crash."

In 2003, car crashes killed 1,794 children under age 16 and injured an additional 241,000 according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Of these children, one-third were seated in the front seat and more than half were completely unrestrained at the time of the crash.

The Children's Hospital/ State Farm data demonstrates that parents forget the importance of rear seating, especially as children grow out of child safety seats. When children were the sole passengers of the vehicle, meaning rear seat positions were available, 30 percent of 4- to 8-year-olds and 73 percent of 9- to 12-year-olds were riding up front.

Rear Seating and Appropriate Restraint are Key

According to the Children's Hospital/State Farm report, parents have the ability to greatly lessen the risk of injury or death to their child passengers by following simple guidelines. Make sure that everyone in the vehicle is restrained on every trip. Move children under 13 to the back seat. Use the correct restraint for the child's age and size. Use the restraints
correctly. Using age- and size-appropriate restraint reduces the risk of
serious injury by more than three times. The combination of rear seating and
restraint use reduces the risk of injury to less than two percent.

"We know that, overall, children seated in the front seat are 40 percent more likely to sustain serious injuries in a crash than are children who sit in the rear seat of vehicles," said Dr. Winston. "The deployment of passenger airbags and contact with the hard surfaces of the dashboard and windshield are common injury mechanisms for children who ride up front."

Dr. Winston and her team are particularly concerned about families driving older vehicles manufactured before 1998 that still have the first generation of passenger airbags, which have proven extremely dangerous for children.
"Rear seating for children is particularly important in these older vehicles."

Buying a Safer Car

Along with requiring appropriate restraint and rear seating for children, parents also can reduce injury risk with buying a family-friendly vehicle for transporting children. Certain vehicle features enhance a child's safety.

Families should look for safety features that offer flexibility in the back seat and make it easier to provide optimal restraint for the children. Features include lap-and-shoulder seat belts in the center rear seat, adjustable shoulder belts in the rear seats, built-in child safety seats and
LATCH-which stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children and allows parents to install safety seats without using the seat belt. Also, test out the child safety seats in the vehicle before buying it. Not all safety seats and vehicles are compatible.

"Larger, heavier vehicles, such as minivans, large and luxury passenger
cars and large SUVs, tend to be safest for kids," said Dennis Durbin, M.D., M.S.C.E., co-principal investigator of the Children's Hospital/State Farm study. "Smaller cars and SUVs tend to have higher injury risks. Sports cars and compact pickup trucks were the riskiest vehicles for kids."

To read the latest research on safe seating decisions for children, download the full CPS Issue Report from http://www.traumalink.chop.edu. To learn more about protecting children in crashes visit http://www.chop.edu/carseat.

The CPS Issue Report on safe seating for children was released to pediatricians through the May issue of the American Academy of Pediatrics' AAP News.

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.

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 http://www.chop.edu.

About State Farm(R)

State Farm(R) insures more cars than any other insurer in North America and is the leading U.S. home insurer. State Farm's 17,000 agents and 76,000 employees serve nearly 73 million auto, fire, life and health policies in the United States and Canada. State Farm also offers financial services products. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company is the parent of the State Farm family of companies. State Farm is ranked No. 18 on the Fortune 500 list of largest companies. For more information, please visit http://www.statefarm.com/(R) or in Canada http://www.statefarm.ca.

About The American Academy of Pediatrics

The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric specialists
dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults.