Obviously, anytime a child pedestrian is struck by a motor vehicle the potential exists for serious traumatic injury or even death. A vehicle may have 100 times the mass of a child, and even at relatively slow speeds its momentum is sufficient cause broken bones, spinal injuries, and major head injuries. But even so, some types of vehicles are more likely to cause a child pedestrian death than are other vehicles.
A Study of the Factors in Child Pedestrian Death
A study published in 2006 in an academic journal focused on the control of injury and promotion of safety summarized the results of a review of more than 18,000 traffic accident reports in which children between the ages of 5 and 19 had been struck by motor vehicles, resulting in injury or child pedestrian death. The authors theorized that in addition to other factors, such as vehicle weight, victim’s age, and roadway conditions, the type of vehicle striking a pedestrian might be a significant factor in the type and severity of injuries that resulted due to the overall shape and construction of the vehicle.
After controlling for numerous other variables, the authors concluded that this was indeed the case. They determined from the data that in the entire victim age group — 5 through 19-years-old — a strike by a light truck or van was more than twice as likely to result in child pedestrian death than a victim being hit by a passenger car. In younger children, the numbers were even worse, with incidents involving light trucks and vans being more than four times as likely to cause child pedestrian death.
How to Prevent Child Pedestrian Death
Children are much more likely that adults to be the victims in motor vehicle vs. pedestrian incidents — they are less careful around traffic, more impulsive in their behavior, and their smaller size makes it more difficult for them to see vehicles and for drivers to see them. Certainly, good education at home and in school can help teach them to avoid situations where they might be struck by vehicles. There are many excellent educational resources available through organizations and agencies such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Highway Administration. But when incidents like this do occur, studies such as the one described above can help point toward opportunities to re-engineer the shape and structure of vehicles so that being struck by one is less likely to result in severe injury or child pedestrian death.
If you or a family member has been injured as the result of a motor vehicle accident — especially one that may involve injury to a pedestrian — call me now at (916) 921-6400. If you are outside the Sacramento area, you can call at (800) 404-5400 for free, friendly advice.