African American children at higher risk in motor vehicle crashes

Responding to the disproportionate risks that African American children face in motor vehicle-related crashes, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and Toyota are doubling the reach of their groundbreaking safety education program Buckle Up for Life. Buckle Up for Life is the only national program of its kind.

Research analyzed by Cincinnati Children’s — a national leader in pediatric and adolescent medicine — shows that African American children are more likely than most other children to die in motor vehicle crashes. Studies also show that, due to multiple factors, African American children are significantly less likely than non-African American children to be buckled up in seat belts or car seats. (Studies show similar outcomes among children in the Hispanic community.)


Key facts

• Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of injury-related death for African American children through age 14.

• In crashes involving fatalities in children under 14, seat belt use is lower among African Americans than among all other race or ethnic groups.

• Fifty-two percent of African American children in fatal crashes were unrestrained.

• Three out of every four car seats are not used or installed correctly (across race and ethnic groups).

• The number of children buckled up nearly tripled among families who participated in one of Buckle Up for Life’s pilot cities.

• Young children restrained in child safety seats have an 80 percent lower risk of fatal injury than those who are unrestrained.

How the program works

Working directly with parents, caregivers and kids and through local churches and hospitals, Buckle Up for Life addresses the economic, information and cultural barriers to motor vehicle safety over the course of a six-week program.

“Years ago, a mother who was involved in a car crash in which her child died said something to me that to this day haunts me but also inspires me, ‘If I only knew,’” said Dr. Victor Garcia, founding director of Trauma Services at Cincinnati Children’s, professor of pediatric surgery and a co-founder of Buckle Up for Life.

“The number of African American children dying unnecessarily in motor vehicle-related crashes is alarming, something I see firsthand in my work as a trauma surgeon. This is a public health emergency that can be avoided and needs to be addressed. We know that safety education and access to car seats can make a major difference, and working with Toyota, we are glad to have the opportunity to help.”

Toyota’s support for Buckle Up for Life is part of the company’s ongoing commitment to help make local communities safer and stronger. The company has contributed more than a half-billion dollars to nonprofits throughout the U.S. over the past 20 years.


This information was provided by Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Toyota in their partnership of the Buckle Up for Life program.