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Researchers study fatal crashes involving children

Maryland's strict child passenger safety laws likely save many lives each year according to research from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Harvard University. Children between 8 and 16 years of age in Maryland must be secured by a safety belt or restraint whether they sit in the front or the back of vehicles, and a study of 18,116 fatal crashes suggests that the lives of 230 children could be saved each year around the country if seat belt use increased by just 10 percent.

The researchers found that one in five of the children who died on the nation's roads between 2010 and 2014 were not wearing seat belts or were not properly restrained, and the data indicates that a further 13 percent were improperly riding in the front of vehicles. The study, which was published on May 18 by the Journal of Pediatrics, concludes that stricter seat belt laws coupled with more aggressive enforcement efforts could reduce the number of children killed in auto accidents each year by as much as 40 percent.

The study reveals that most fatal accidents involving children occur on rural roads and at speeds of between 45 and 60 mph. According to the research, children are most likely to be killed in crashes in the South and most likely to reach their destinations unharmed in the Northeast.

When road users lose their lives due to the negligent actions of others, their dependent family members may seek compensation by filing wrongful death lawsuits. The plaintiffs in this type of litigation often seek damages to compensate them for the lost income of their loved ones, but calculating damages is more challenging when a child's life has been lost. In situations like this, experienced personal injury attorneys may call upon doctors, teachers and other experts to evaluate the child's health, abilities and long-term potential.

Source: Maryland Department of Transportation, "Child Passenger Safety", accessed on May 29, 2017

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