2018 Child Endangerment Report

In 2016, the “Prevent Impaired Driving Child Endangerment Act” was introduced to the U.S. Congress by Representative Kathleen Rice of New York in an effort to take Leandra’s Law nationwide. It included the same elements of Leandra’s Law and would have sanctioned states that do not have a DUI child endangerment law. The bill did not pass and has not been re-introduced. Overview of Current Research & Data According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2,469 people under the age 15 were killed as passengers in the vehicle of a drunk driver from 2000 to 2009. The CDC found that one in five deaths of child passengers are caused by drunk drivers, and most often (64 percent of time), they are passengers in the impaired driver’s vehicle. The CDC study found a correlation between having no laws on impaired-driving child endangerment and higher rates of child passenger deaths in impairment related crashes. Being killed in a crash in which their own driver was impaired ranks as the sixth leading overall cause of death for children. Another study funded by the CDC looked at data collected between 2001 and 2010 and found that 11,119 child passengers died in vehicle crashes. 8 Of these, 2,344 (21 percent) died in crashes involving alcohol-impaired drivers, and of these 1,515 (65 percent) were driven by an alcohol-impaired driver. The study also found that impaired drivers of vehicle crashes were more likely to be male (63 percent versus 45 percent of non-impaired drivers), have a previous DUI (seven percent versus one percent of non-impaired drivers), and have no valid driver’s license (34 percent versus 16 percent of non-impaired drivers). Crashes were more likely to occur at night between the hours of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. (66 percent), and crashes were more likely to be a single vehicle crash (63 percent). Restraint use for children decreased as the BAC level of the driver increased. The two states with the greatest number of alcohol-impaired crash child deaths were Texas (272) and California (135), and the highest annualized rates of child deaths (per 100,000) occurred in South Dakota (.98) and New Mexico (.86). South Dakota and New Mexico were two of the four states without child endangerment laws (along with Connecticut and Vermont – Connecticut recently enacted child endangerment legislation). 9 In 2015, 181 children were killed in drunk driving crashes, and 51 percent of these children were unrestrained, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In 2016, 214 children were killed in drunk driving crashes, 10 54 percent were passengers of vehicles with alcohol impaired drivers and 46 percent of these children were unrestrained. A child in a vehicle with a drinking driver is not only at risk from the impaired driver, but also from the lack of safety restraint use (seat belt or child safety seat), as drinking drivers are much less likely to make sure a child is properly restrained. Child safety seats have been shown to reduce fatal injury by 71 percent for infants (under 1 year old) and by 54 percent for toddlers (1 to 4 years old) in passenger cars. For infants and toddlers in light trucks, the corresponding reductions are 58 percent and 59 percent, respectively. 11 8,9 “ Child passenger deaths involving alcohol-impaired drivers,” Kyran Quinlan MD, MPH, Ruth Shults, PhD, MPH, Rose Rudd MSPH, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, CDC, Atlanta 10 Hertz, E. (1996, December). Revised estimates of child restraint effectiveness. (Report No. DOT HS 96 855). Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Available at crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/96855. 11“ Traffic Facts Sheet 2016 Data: Children, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Most impaired drivers who crash:


Previous DUI

No License

Most impaired crashes happen:

At Night

With a Single Car


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