Children Killed In Crashes Often Passengers of Drinking Drivers
Summer is fast approaching, and statistics show that when the weather turns warm there are more drinking drivers on the road. Although there are strict penalties in place for drinking drivers who are arrested with children under the age of 16 in the their vehicles, there is still a high incidence of children involved in drunk driving crashes.
You may automatically think that children killed in drunk driving crashes are the victims of the driver of another vehicle, but a new study has shown that the drinking driver who causes the crash is often the driver of their own vehicle. A study done by Chicago pediatrician Dr.Kyran Quinlan revealed that two-thirds of the time, if a child is killed in an alcohol related crash, it is because they are a passenger in a vehicle being driven by a drunk driver.
The study looked at U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data for children who met the criteria of being under the age of 15 and involved in a fatal DUI crash. There were 2,344 drunk driving crashes that occurred between the years 2001 and 2010. In over 1500 of those crashes, the child was a passenger with the person driving drunk. The researchers also found that two-thirds of the children involved in the crash were not wearing seat belts, and South Dakota and New Mexico had the highest rates of children dying in alcohol related crashes.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) would like to see all states pass a drunk driving law that makes DUI with a child passenger a felony offense, and they’d also like to require an ignition interlock device for those who are convicted.
Although some states have harsh DUI penalties should the drinking driver be caught driving under the influence with a child in the vehicle, this study shows the need to step up that effort and require all states to crack down on those who choose to drink and drive with children.