Children Riding in Extended Cab Pickup Trucks are at Greater Risk of Injury, According to Researchers at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia; Real-World Crash Research Warns Against Transporting Children in Compact Extended Cab Pickup Trucks

03/5/2002

PHILADELPHIA, March 5 /PRNewswire/ -- Researchers at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia have found that children who ride inside compact extended cab pickup trucks are at a greater risk of injury than children riding in other vehicles. Findings of the study are published in the March 6 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

The research is the first ever to measure the risk to children inside compact extended cab pickup trucks. "We found that children riding in the rear seat of compact extended cab pickup trucks were nearly five times more likely to suffer injury during a crash compared to children riding in the rear seat of other vehicles," says Flaura Koplin Winston, M.D., Ph.D., lead author of the JAMA paper and principal investigator of the Partners for Child Passenger Safety, a study funded by State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company.

"Our findings indicate that compact extended cab pickup trucks are not optimal vehicles for transporting children," said Dr. Winston. "We encourage families who own them to avoid transporting children in them and to find other forms of transportation." Seventy-five percent of all State Farm policyholders who own compact extended cab pickup trucks insure a second vehicle, indicating most families have alternative vehicles.

The study sample represented 110,423 children involved in 71,229 crashes from December 1998 to November 2000 reported to State Farm, Children's Hospital's partner in the Partners for Child Passenger Safety project. The on- going partnership focuses on identifying key issues pertaining to how and why children are injured or killed in car crashes and offers viable recommendations based on the science.

"The increased risk of injury is caused by contact with the interior of the vehicle at impact," says Dennis Durbin, M.D., co-principal investigator of Partners for Child Passenger Safety and co-author of the study. "The rear seat of an extended cab pickup truck presents unique hazards including a small rear occupant compartment, side-facing jump seats, and the limitation of a lap-only safety belt," added Dr. Durbin. "In addition, injuries suggest there is insufficient padding."

The side-facing jump seats of most compact extended cab pickup trucks are exempted from federal safety standards for occupant protection in interior impact testing. "This study is the first with the ability to evaluate the specific risk of injury to children by vehicle type and seating position," stated Dr. Winston. "We plan to discuss these findings with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and auto manufacturers to help develop test procedures to optimize safety of the rear seats of compact extended cab pickup trucks."

Additionally, children riding in any passenger seating position in compact extended cab pickup trucks were at three times increased risk of injury compared to children in other vehicles. This study did not evaluate the risk of injury from riding in the cargo area of a pickup truck, which already has a well-described fatality rate.

The Partners for Child Passenger Safety (PCPS) is an on-going research collaboration between The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company and the University of Pennsylvania. PCPS compiles and analyzes data on real world crashes involving children by combining State Farm claims information with detailed telephone interviews and on-site crash investigations. Since 1997, PCPS has created a database containing information on nearly 150,000 crashes involving more than 220,000 children. It has become the largest source of data on children in motor vehicle crashes. Through peer-reviewed publication of PCPS findings and consistent communication with targeted audiences (medical providers, automobile and restraint manufacturers, public policy makers, advocates, and parents), PCPS seeks to educate parents and automotive and restraint manufacturers on how to best restrain child passengers to lower rates of injury and death to children in motor vehicles. PCPS is based at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Founded in 1855 as the nation's first pediatric hospital, The Children's Hospital is recognized today as one of the leading treatment and research facilities for children in the world. Through its longstanding commitment to providing exceptional patient care, training new generations of pediatric healthcare professionals and pioneering major research initiatives, Children's Hospital has fostered medical discoveries, innovations and breakthroughs that have benefited children worldwide.

CONTACT: Suzanne Hill of CHOP, +1-215-590-1417, or hillsu@email.chop.edu.