Fatal auto accidents involving children under 15 vary from state to state, but there are some notable trend lines and occurrences, according to a recent report by researchers at Harvard and UT Southwestern Medical Center.

The report, published recently, showed that these crashes occur most often in the South, with several risk factors playing major recurring roles, including improperly or unused restraints and safety precautions, as well as crashes on rural roads. 

What do the numbers say?

The researchers looked at numbers over a four year period from 2010 to 2014, and found that sixteen percent of children—in this case, defined as anyone under 15 years old—that were involved in fatal wrecks died. This amounted to 2,885 children over the four year period.

In the same time period in New Mexico, 256 children were involved in a fatal car crash, with 43 deaths. In other words, the mortality rate per 100,000 children is around 1.98 for our state, compared to a nationwide rate of 0.94. For comparison, 18,116 children were involved in these crashes, with 2,885 fatalities, as mentioned above.

What are the common factors?

Researchers divided their research by state and then region (Midwest, Northeast, South, West) and began finding patterns. Namely, state laws and regulations played a significant part in preventing childhood motor vehicle accident fatalities.

For example, researchers concluded that just a 10 percent increase in proper restraint usage—including seatbelts and children’s car seats—would result in some 230 fewer children’s deaths per year.

Overall, some 16 percent of children involved in fatality accidents during the four year span died. Texas led the nation in child fatalities during the period, with 346, while Rhode Island had the fewest, with 3.