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Press Release

Press Release # 041-07
Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Andrew Tucker (
Sara Markt (


Motor Vehicles Are the Leading Cause of Preventable Child Deaths

NEW YORK CITY – May 24, 2007 – Kids in New York City are safer than in the nation overall, according to the first report of the New York City Child Fatality Review Team, released by the Health Department today. The City’s child injury death rate is half the national rate, thanks mainly to lower rates of car passenger deaths and homicides. While children in New York City are seven times less likely to die as car passengers, motor vehicles remain the leading cause of accidental child deaths in New York City. The full Child Fatality Report is available at

In New York City, 286 children between the ages of one and 12 died from injury during the five-year period from 2001 through 2005. Injury deaths mainly include accidents, homicides and suicides. Two thirds of these deaths were accidents. While motor vehicles were the single largest contributor, 55% of fatal injuries occurred in or around the home – many caused by house fires, and some by falls and falling objects. The rate of fatal injuries was 26% higher among boys than girls and 50% higher among African American children than white children. Younger children (aged 1-3 years) and children living in Brooklyn also experienced higher-than-average rates of fatal injury.

"Every child death is a tragedy," said Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas R. Frieden. "While injury death rates are relatively low in New York City, virtually all of these deaths are preventable. Improving safety on our streets and in our homes will make New York City even safer for kids."

"Safety is DOT's top priority and thanks to engineering improvements and education, our streets are safer. But we can and need to do more to protect the most vulnerable New Yorkers," said Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. "This report provides important guidance on what we need to do to keep kids safe on our streets and highlights the importance of initiatives like Safe Routes to School, a program that has already led to safety enhancements at the10% of city schools with the highest accident rates."

"Anytime a child dies, we have a responsibility to immediately address the source or cause of death," said City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. "This report serves as a useful tool to prevent future tragedies. After working so extensively on the creation of the Child Fatality Review Team, I am very pleased to see significant progress in addressing this important issue. I am grateful to Dr. Frieden and the members of the CFRT for their dedication and excellent work."

Motor Vehicle Deaths

One-fourth of New York City’s fatal child injuries involved motor vehicles – the leading cause of child-injury deaths both locally and nationally. Although New Yorkers walk more than most Americans, the City’s child pedestrian death rates are comparable to national rates. Eighty-four percent (84%) of the children killed by motor vehicles were pedestrians, and certain groups were more affected than others.

  • Child Fatality Rates - Ages 1 - 12
  • African American children represented 49% of all motor vehicle deaths even though they are only 29% of the City’s child population aged one to12.
  • Boys accounted for nearly twice as many motor vehicle deaths as girls (64% vs. 34%).
  • Children ages 10-12 had the highest high motor vehicle death rate of all one to 12 year olds.

The location and circumstances of these deaths provide some clues for preventing deaths in the future.

  • Among the five boroughs, child death rates were highest in Brooklyn and Queens and lowest in Manhattan.
  • Children playing in the street, or darting out from between parked cars were common factors in child pedestrian deaths.
  • More than a third of child-pedestrian deaths involved light trucks, half of which were SUVs.
  • Nearly half of all fatal motor vehicle accidents among children occurred during the spring and summer in the evening hours.
  • Half of child-pedestrian deaths occurred within 700 feet of a school, nearly all during the evenings, weekends, and summer.

Key Pedestrian Safety Tips

  • Parents should talk to their kids about safe places to play, and supervise them as appropriate
  • Stop, look and listen before crossing any street
  • Always use the crosswalks
  • Play in parks and schoolyards instead of near streets whenever possible

The report recommendations for expanding the City's child safety efforts include:

  • Expanding the transportation infrastructure to include more crosswalks and speed bumps, and working to ensure that all kids live within a 10-minute walk of a park or playground
  • Creating a traffic safety website and launching a citywide awareness campaign
  • Supporting state legislation to mandate cross-over mirrors for large commercial trucks

A complete list of recommendations to support child safety and reduce child motor vehicle deaths is available at

Homicides and Suicides

While the homicide rate among NYC children was 40% lower than the national average, homicides still accounted for one-fifth (21%) of all injury deaths during the five year study period. Homicides affected boys and girls similarly, but rates were highest among one-to-three-year olds and African American children. Suicide rates among children were also lower than the national rate. The study identified four child suicides during the study period, representing 1.4% of all injury deaths.

About the report

This report was produced by the Child Fatality Review Team, which was established in 2006 to review all preventable deaths among New York City children ages one to 12. The multi-disciplinary committee, mandated by Local Law 115, includes representatives from the Health Department, the Department of Education, the Police Department, the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) and the Office of Chief Medical Examiner, as well as pediatricians and child welfare advocates appointed by the Mayor, City Council, and the Public Advocate.

For more information on general child safety, please visit