When you hear about a child being killed in a car accident involving a drunk driver, it may be natural to assume that the child was in the car with his or her sober family when the drunk driver caused the accident.
Too many children die every year in alcohol-related car accidents, but a new study suggests that the majority of these children are riding in the car with the impaired driver.
The exact rate of children’s deaths while riding in the car with a drunk driver varies by state, according to an article from Reuters on the study. But, in 2010 about 1,210 children younger than 15 years old were killed in a car crash — one in five of those crashes involved drunks driving.
The study analyzed data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, which keeps track of deadly car accidents. The data revealed that 2,344 children younger than 15 years old died in 2,075 car crashes involving drunk drivers between 2001 and 2010.
Of those thousands of deaths, 65% of the children were riding with the drunk driver. Over that ten year period, the number of child passengers that were killed while riding with a drunk driver actually decreased by 41% from 197 in 2001 to 116 in 2010.
Regardless of the decrease, too many young people are dying in car accidents because they had to be in the car with an impaired driver. Children younger than 15, who don’t yet have their driver’s license have little control over who they get in the car with: if mom, dad, or the babysitter is their ride home from baseball practice that day, getting in the car is really the only option.
An impaired driver puts that child at great risk as soon as the wheels start rolling. According to the study, 61% of the children who died while riding with a drunk driver were not restrained.
This indicates that the impaired driver did not buckle in the young child, or didn’t make sure they were wearing a seat belt. One of the researchers said, “About 70% of the time, the drunk driver survived the crash. This means that many times the crashes were survivable, and if the child were buckled up correctly they might have lived.”
Car accidents in which children lose a life are even more devastating, especially if it could have been prevented.
On the brighter side, New York had the lowest measurable rates of children dying in a car accident while riding with a drunk driver. But when a devastating accident such as this does happen, it is important to know where to find an experienced car accident attorney in New York City.