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Health Check: Traffic injuries and kids

Health Check: Traffic injuries and kids.

A parked or slow moving vehicle can be every bit as deadly as one on the road.

"Those can include things such as rollovers, front overs, back overs., Also children being left in the vehicle and exposed to the elements,” said Dr. Mark Zonfrillo, an emergency department physician at Hasbro Children’s Hospital. He is also an injury researcher at both Hasbro and Brown University.

Power windows, a potential danger.

"It's not uncommon to find this--to see children who can get their heads stuck in a power window and be injured or even killed," said Zonfrillo.

He and his research team used a unique surveillance system and data base developed by KidsAndCars.org, a national non-profit organization that is all about keeping children safe in and around vehicles. And what they found, over a 24 year period, between 1990 and 2014 was this: There were more than 11,750 distinct incidents involving 14.568 children 14 and younger resulting in 3,400 deaths.

"It did surprise us because I think when you traditionally think of the 'no data, no problem' paradigm,” said Zonfrillo. “But when you start to dig and you start to record these incidents over time, you begin to appreciate how frequently they actually occur."

The most common incidents involved kids being left in extremely hot or cold cars. Another big problem: backing over children. This data has already led to some legislative changes.

"For example, mandating rear view cameras in all contemporary vehicles," said Zonfrillo.

But there are steps, he says, we can take, starting with our power windows.

"You can certainly engage the power window locks that children can't, intentionally or unintentionally, engage those power windows,” said Zonfrillo.

"Probably the most successful would be to consider behavioral changes."

Including, he says, bringing reminders you have a child in the car by placing a stuffed animal by your purse or briefcase and not leaving a child intentionally in the car, even for a few minutes.


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