Study: Biggest Risk to Kids in Cars Are their Own Drunk Drivers


The American Academy of Pediatrics recently published a new study that reports the biggest risk of child alcohol-related traffic deaths is the adult behind the wheel, not those in other vehicles.

Dr. Kyran Quinlan of Northwest University and researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that between 2001 and 2010, there were 2,344 child deaths as the result of alcohol-related traffic collisions. Of those collisions, the driver of the child was drunk in 1,515 cases.

The study, which was published in the journal Pediatrics, also found that child traffic deaths as the result of drunk driving are, however, on the decline. Researchers discovered that the number of children killed by drunk drivers has dropped by about 41 percent in the last ten years.

The statistics were gathered using Fatality Analysis Reporting System data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and examined children under the age of 15 who were killed in traffic collisions between 2001 and 2010.

Researchers also found that about two thirds of children killed as passengers of drunk drivers were not wearing their seatbelts. “The more a driver has been drinking, the less likely a child was buckled up in the crash in which they died,” said Dr. Quinlan.

While California had the second highest total number of children killed by their drunk drivers at 135, South Dakota and New Mexico had the highest numbers relative to their population.

“We’re hoping that states may take a look at their numbers, now that they have them, and consider renewed efforts to get at this,” said Dr. Quinlan. “Thirty years ago, it was a completely different culture than it is today. People used to talk about having one for the road, and that is just not funny anymore.”

Not only are you putting your child’s life at risk when you drink and drive with them in the car, in California, you will also be subject to California’s DUI “child endangerment” sentencing enhancement. In addition to the sentence for the underlying California DUI conviction, the enhancement will land you and additional and consecutive 48 hours in county jail for a first offense, 10 days in jail for a second, 30 days in jail for a third, or 90 days in jail for a fourth or subsequent misdemeanor DUI conviction.

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