A PERSONAL NOTE
There are many reasons why you may be reading this important document. You may be a researcher examining current data and trends in child endangerment. You may be a professional in the criminal justice realm, an attorney representing clients, a judge seeking solutions, or a child protection advocate looking for better tools to keep children safe. You may be a parent facing your greatest fear or trying to make sense of your worst nightmare coming to life. In these pages you will find you are not alone. As a state trooper I know the losses. Having seen absolute miracles of children surviving tremendous crashes in properly secured occupant restraints, I also know what it feels like to have life slipping away from a three year old as I hold him in my arms and try in vain to keep him alive. As a parent I continually grieve the loss of my daughter, tragically killed by the pure negligence of her driver, who was drunk. As a traffic safety advocate, my work includes contributions not only to this Child Endangerment Report but also membership on the first panel of experts completing its work in 2002. Of note, the work you’ll see in this report includes studies reflecting: • 64% of children killed in drunk driving crashes occurred while they were riding with the drinking driver in the 11 years 1985 to 1996 (JAMA, May 2000) • 1997 to 2001 that percentage was 68% • The 64% statistic was repeated in a CDC study looking at years 2000 to 2009 • A child killed in a crash in which their own driver was impaired ranks as a leading cause of traffic death for America’s children Regardless of the reason you are reading this report, please know that work in this area is far from finished. We achieved better numbers for the year of 2016 at 54%, but that was a single year and clearly we are not done. Child endangerment connected to impaired driving is, and has been, a persistent and ongoing challenge for a long time. We can change this behavior. We must protect our children. Progress only comes if we act, and we encourage your help. Please consider the recommendations and solutions that follow in this report.
Killed by a drunk driver, New Year’s Day, 1998
Child Endangerment Timeline
Studies continue to show that the majority of child deaths in drunk driving crashes are caused by the child’s own drinking driver.
This still ranks as a leading cause of death for children in the United States.
Yours in safety,
Lt. Carl McDonald Wyoming Highway Patrol, Ret.
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