The Health Department today released its annual report detailing child injury deaths, which found that between 2003 and 2012, motor vehicle-related injuries were the leading cause of injury death among NYC children aged 1 to 12 years. More than 100 children died from a motor vehicle-related injury over this time period.
A disproportionate number of these injuries occurred among Black children and those children living in high poverty neighborhoods.
While NYC children aged 1 to 12 have a lower rate of injury death than children in the U.S., injuries still pose a substantial risk to New York City children. Between 2003 and 2012, 438 NYC children aged 1 to 12 years died from an injury-related cause, an average of about 44 deaths per year. The leading causes of injury death were motor vehicle-related injuries, followed by fire-related injuries, suffocation, and falls. A disproportionate number of these injuries occurred among Black children and those children living in high poverty neighborhoods. Injury death rates were 3.0 per 100,000 for children living in high poverty neighborhoods, as compared to 2.1 for those in low poverty. Risk also varied by race, as rates were 3.5 per 100,000 for Black children, versus 2.4 for White children and 2.0 for Hispanic children. The report can be found on www.nyc.gov/health.
“We strive to reduce deaths in childhood, which are a tragedy to families and a loss for our City. Motor vehicle-related deaths lead child injury deaths in New York City, and this report supports the ongoing efforts of Vision Zero to create safer streets for children, youth and all New Yorkers,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “Understanding the types of injury deaths and how they disproportionately affect certain populations will help guide our efforts to both prevent future injuries and reduce disparities.”
“Many of the most convincing and passionate voices in support of Vision Zero are parents who lost children in traffic crashes and we are grateful for their advocacy,” said Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “This is an important report that will help us continue to address priority intersections, corridors and areas for the safety of our children and all New Yorkers.”
As a part of Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative, this report features a special section on motor vehicle-related deaths among children and youth aged 1-17 years. Between 2009 and 2011, 48 children aged 1 to 17 died in motor vehicle incidents. Most were pedestrians, and nearly two-thirds of the pedestrians killed were hit within 10 blocks of their home. Crossing against the light and crossing mid-block, such as emerging from between parked cars, played a role in more than half of the pedestrian fatalities. Driver behaviors, such as driver inattention and failure to yield, were also cited as contributing factors.
“My son Sammy was one of the hundreds of children who have been killed in traffic. Each statistic represents an unfathomable loss,” said Amy Cohen, founding member of Families for Safe Streets. “We have an epidemic and must do all we can to make our streets more forgiving – by designing safer streets, by educating motorists to drive like their loved ones’ lives are at stake, and by enforcing traffic laws. In our dense pedestrian city, safety must come first.”
Vision Zero has already implemented a number of safety initiatives, such as a reduced citywide speed limit and increasing the number of speed cameras in school zones, and the report offers additional recommendations to reduce motor vehicle-related injuries. Parents, caregivers, teachers and health care providers should teach children to cross the street at crosswalks, follow pedestrian and traffic signals, and look both ways before crossing the street. Drivers should obey the new 25 mile per hour speed limit, yield to pedestrians, and never text or talk on the phone while driving.
The report was authored by the Health Department and the Child Fatality Review Advisory Team, a multidisciplinary committee of representatives from city agencies as well as child welfare and medical experts appointed by the Mayor, the City Council Speaker, and the Public Advocate. It was formed in 2006 by Local Law 115 to review and report on injuries as preventable causes of death among NYC children under the age of 13.