Best Practices

Motor Vehicle Injury

Motor vehicle traffic crashes are the leading cause of injury death for children ages 1-14. On average, 40 Colorado children ages 0-14 die as occupants in motor vehicle crashes each year, representing 37 percent of all injury deaths in this age group. Motor vehicle traffic crashes are the 2nd leading cause of injury hospitalization for children in this age group. Approximately, 275 children ages 0-14 are hospitalized each year for injuries sustained as an occupant in a motor vehicle crash, representing 14 percent of all childhood injury hospitalizations in this age group.


In Colorado, 55 percent of injury deaths and 32 percent of injury hospitalizations involving 16-17 year olds are due to motor vehicle crashes. Nearly two-thirds of the 16- to 20 year olds who died as a result of a motor vehicle crash were not using seat belts. Nearly 80 percent of the teen passengers who died were in crashes that involved teen drivers.


Injuries due to motor vehicle occupant crashes can be prevented.


  • When correctly installed and used, child safety seats reduce the risk of death by up to 71 percent for infants and 54 percent for toddlers ages 1-4.
  • Booster seats can be protective for children ages 4-8. One study showed that the use of booster seats by children ages 4-7 lowers the risk of injury by 59 percent compared to the use of seatbelts.
  • When properly used, seatbelts are 45 to 60 percent effective in preventing fatal injuries.
  • The Task Force on Community Preventive Services recommends four evidence-based strategies to increase child safety seat use: distribution programs with education, public information/enforcement campaigns, incentive/education programs, and legislation.
  • Possible strategies to reduce teen deaths, injuries, and crashes include a combination of strong graduated driver licensing laws, enhanced enforcement of all traffic safety laws, and increased parental management of young drivers.

Source: Injury in Colorado. Denver, CO: Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, 2005.


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