Child car passenger fatalities – European figures and in-depth study

This paper reports on three approaches undertaken to study overall child car passenger fatality numbers across Europe and examine conditions when fatalities occur. Firstly, a literature review of previous specific studies and public data finds data from WHO for estimating the relevance of child road accident fatalities. Detail for child fatalities as car passengers is found to be limited and for the future it is important to collect and harmonise exposure data (especially distance travelled) to compare countries and different modes of traffic for their fatality risk. Secondly, interrogation of the EC CARE database (Community database on Accidents on the Roads in Europe) for child car passenger fatalities finds that 392 children (0 to 13 years) were killed as car (or taxi) passengers in 23 countries of the EU during 2008, 44% of all road fatalities for this age group. Over the previous 10 year period the reduction in child car passenger fatalities is estimated to be 50% for the EU-19 countries with available data. Thirdly, in depth analysis of French police child passenger fatality files has taken place. The CASIMIR project (Child Accident Study Investigating Mortal Incident on the Road), the collation and in-depth analysis of French police child passenger fatality files from 2001 to 2003, was reported at FISITA 2010. An update of this study with data from 2005 to 2010 is on-going, in order to see if there are some evolutions (for example, new child restraint systems, new generation of cars and changes in parents’ behaviour) and more than 250 fatal accidents will be included in the 2nd phase. From previous results, frontal and side impacts remain a priority, with a small proportion killed in rear impacts and fatalities in roll-overs mostly unrestrained. In this kind of study there are some limits on the information regarding the quality of use of the restraint systems. Therefore a sample of 60 accidents was investigated in-depth (mostly front and side impacts) with special attention paid to the quality of restraint use. Results of these in depth investigations are reported in the present paper. The complete data of the 2nd phase of the CASIMIR project, also considering sociological data, will be published when all fatal accidents for the period have been coded. Parts of this work have been undertaken in the EC CASPER project and are reported in Deliverable 3.2.1 (Kirk et al, 2011). The activities regarding the French police fatal files have been undertaken in both the CASIMIR project and CASPER.