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Study examines car accident fatality rates for children by state

West Virginia is one of the states with the highest percentages of child fatalities from motor vehicle accidents. It also has the fifth-highest annual child mortality rate per 100,000. These were the findings in a study by researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Harvard University that examined the relationship between motor vehicle accidents, state laws and geography. For the purposes of the study, a "child" was considered someone younger than 15.

Children in the South were most likely to die in motor vehicle crashes while those in the Northeast were the least likely. Fatal accidents were more likely to happen on rural roads, and restraints that were either unused or used improperly were often factors in the fatalities. In the South, 1,550 children died between 2010 and 2014, the years the study examined, compared to 189 in the Northeast. A total of 2,885 children died in motor vehicle accidents over the period.

The study also found that if the correct use of car seats and seat belts was increased by 10 percent, the result would be about 230 lives saved each year. This adds up to almost 40 percent of the total fatalities in the period studied. In 9 percent of the accidents, a driver was under the influence.

Even an accident that does not result in a fatality may be devastating. When people or their children are injured in an accident, the consequences may be life-changing and could include traumatic brain injury, paralysis or amputation. Injuries that are not permanent may still be costly and require a long recovery period. If another driver is responsible, whether it is because of negligent driving or for some other reason, an injured victim might want to file a lawsuit against that driver if the amount offered by the driver's insurance company is insufficient.

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