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Rate of child fatalities in car crashes high in South Dakota

A car accident is a scary time in anyone's life, and they are perhaps more concerning when children are involved. Nobody wants to see a child hurt, and kids themselves may have trouble understanding why an accident happened. This notion may be especially concerning for drivers in South Dakota and Iowa, where a higher percentage of children under the age of 15 die as a result of car crashes when compared to other states.

Alarming new data from researchers at Harvard and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center studied how children were affected by car accidents from 2010 to 2014. The data shows that children die in 16 percent of crashes nationwide. However, the fatality rate was nearly 1 in 4 for children in South Dakota and Iowa. Why is this the case?

Two ways children are at risk in a crash

Awareness of what causes harm can help kids ride safer. Researchers point to two leading causes of fatalities for children. 

1. Improper or unused restraints

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends children use a car seat from birth until at least age eight. From age eight until 13, parents should consider a child's height and weight when deciding whether or not to use a booster seat. Further, children under 12 years old should never ride in the front seat to avoid injury from a vehicle's airbag.

2. Lack of care on rural roads

Nearly two-thirds of all crashes that involved a child fatality occurred on rural roads, with a majority of accidents occurring between 45 and 60 mph. Drivers in rural states like South Dakota and Iowa can take better care on local and gravel roads, where "close to home" accidents are more likely to occur.

Drivers who take short trips on local roads, like to and from soccer practice, may think that they are less likely to get in a fatal crash. In fact, 77 percent of car accidents happen within 15 of the home, according to Progressive Corporation. Local roads may not receive the same care as state highways, which could result in dangerous ruts, potholes or flooding that drivers may not anticipate.

How to seek help after an accident

Regardless of how a crash happens, they often result in expensive medical bills and complex insurance claims. Children and loved ones deserve the best representation and recovery possible when they are hurt in a crash, which is why a local personal injury attorney is there to help families through the claims process.

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