Five Children Die Each Day in Car Crashes

0127636-R1-052-24A_2I heard about this on NPR yesterday morning, and I’ve been obsessively thinking about it ever since.

About five children die everyday in car accidents.

The NPR story emphasizes that some of these deaths could be averted if American children stayed rear facing for longer.

Even if you have a toddler, it’s safer for her to face backwards.

Apparently in Sweden children as old as four face backwards in their car seats.

But even if your child is safely buckled, you can’t avoid the fact that driving is dangerous.

My friend Vicky’s son Nate died in a car crash. My friend R.’s son died when he was hit by a car. My friend Melissa’s husband died in a car crash and left her to raise three young sons by herself. When my husband was little, he was in a head-on collision. He and his mom survived but he watched the other driver die before his eyes.

What if we all tried to keep our kids out of the car as much as we could?

What if we all tried not to drive?

What if we traded our cars for bicycles?

What if we walked? Umbrella in hand if it’s raining?

I don’t want anyone ever to die in a car accident. Especially not children. I know it’s crazy and you’ll call me unrealistic and there are a million reasons why we all have to drive but let’s just leave our cars parked from now on. Open the driver’s door, think of my friend Vicky’s son who will never go to college, never get married, and never laugh with his mom again, close the car door, and walk to where you need to go.

I want you to be safe. I want your children to be safe. I want mine to be safe too.

My friend Roanna once asked me in a truly perplexed tone, “Why don’t you ever use your car?” We do use our car. James just took it to drive out of town. But we’ve been trying to use it less and less.

It helps that there are six of us but our car only seats five.

The real reason I’m trying to keep my family out of the car? I’m terrified one of us will become a statistic.

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18 thoughts on “Five Children Die Each Day in Car Crashes”

  1. Oh honey, please do not live your life in fear like that. There are literally MILLIONS of ways to die, you’ll drive yourself crazy thinking up each worst-case scenario. Please don’t pass on this fear of living on to your children! Thinking like that could cripple them worse than a car accident! Find peace in all circumstances that surpasses logic and understanding.

  2. I agree with Delina. Don’t live life in fear. Even if you never rode in a car ever again there are many ways we lose our lives, it is the human condition. You can stay home, slip and fall in your tub, choke on a sandwich, do everything right but still get cancer. Face your fear and overcome it – that is a lesson your children will thank you for.

  3. I heard that NPR story, too, and the thing that gave me pause was that the panelists advocated making parents buy an extra airplane seat for children two and under, instead of holding babes in arms. That will absolutely price out some families from flying, cause them to drive longer distances, and likely kill more children.

  4. The more I think about this, the more I think this has GOT to be satire. I wonder if people with more conventional leanings think those of us “Mothering” types (who run from BPA, disposable diapers and non-organic food) are just like this mother who is trying to avoid the car?

  5. I think fear of car crashes is pretty valid, as far as fears go. They are so common, and so frequently fatal.

    We live in NYC and don’t own a car, and I can’t imagine living any other way. We are safer, our carbon footprint is drastically reduced, and with any luck my son won’t learn how to drive until he’s into his twenties. We’ve really got to work on public transportation and high-speed rail in this country. It just isn’t sustainable for every family to own one, let alone multiple, vehicles.

  6. I think it’s a stretch to say you’re safer walking to take public transportation in NYC than you are driving a car in rural Kansas. “Safer” is definitely relative.

  7. Safe? More than 100 Americans die in cars every day, and it not only tops all lists of fatalities, but exceeds other causes by a wide margin. Walking and cycling are far safer, even in big cities. All the other dangers you can avoid together don’t even add up to he danger of driving your kid to school, or yourself to work. Worth making some changes?

  8. Yeah, I remember seeing a stat recently about how car accidents are the #1 cause of death in teens (I might not have it quite right, but I’m close). It gave me a lot of pause. We automatically assume a role of safety when hunting or using a chain saw, but we often don’t think about cars the same way. Accidents aside, it’s better for your health — and the health of the planet — to walk or cycle. And you are teaching your children a lifelong good habit by doing so. I’ve found that, the less we use the car, the happier my entire family is. We’re not as rushed. We get more fresh air. We move more. That’s my definition of peace of mind.
    .-= Alisa Bowman´s last blog ..What a Weird Elevator Taught Me About Marriage =-.

  9. There are many good reasons to reduce our dependence on cars when we can – safety is only one of them for me. I love being able to bike with my kids in Japan (and sure, bike accidents happen too, but I love not having to gas up a car or worrying about finding a place to park, and I love the exercise and the freedom of being able to zip here and there while enjoying being outdoors. I don’t have time to work out so this is a great way for me to ensure I’ll stay active!).
    .-= Christine´s last blog ..The last first birthday =-.

  10. Some moms worry obsessively about their child choking while eating, or about her being abducted. You worry about a far more likely event. It seems quite reasonable to me, especially with the close connections you in particular have to accidents. By driving less, we are reducing opportunities, in the same way that we avoid cigarettes/plastics/synthetic hormones/etc to reduce our risk of cancer. It makes sense to me.
    .-= Em´s last blog ..Friday Favorite- Travel Baby Food =-.

  11. Unfortunately, worrying about your kids’ safety around cars is a very realistic concern. Who *wouldn’t* worry when you look at the numbers?
    .-= Ruth Pennebaker´s last blog ..Maybe We

  12. I think that if I were going to live my life over, I would plan to live in a place with great public transportation, where you could easily bike around, and the car would not be the only option for getting places. I used to drive my kids to their international school, 30 to 35 minutes each way. Once, we almost had an accident at an intersection. I squeaked through on a yellow light and was shocked to see a car speed by behind me, as soon as the light turned green. I don’t think that driver slowed down one iota as he approached the red light. I often think about how my daughter was in the back seat and how close we came to being hit by that renegade car. Even today it gives me the chills.
    .-= Alexandra´s last blog ..Snows Wins Raves at Christmastime =-.

  13. I’d be even more worried about getting hit by a car while following your suggestion to ride a bike or walk in the rain. But I can understand how even one of the tragedies you list would loom large in a person’s life. I too wish it was all sidewalks, bike lanes, and public transportation.

  14. I share your anxiety about cars–and I really don’t know what I’m going to do when my kids are driving age. It’s one of the reasons I’m glad we live in a town that’s small enough for them to (mostly) get around on foot or by bike.

    And yet…on days like today when the snow is piling up? I just can’t imagine how we’d get anywhere, whether it’s the grocery store or my mother-in-law’s house for Christmas dinner, without a car. There is ZERO public transporation where we live, unless you count a single cab company (good luck getting anywhere without calling a few hours in advance) and the Amtrak train.

    There are a lot of things that would have to change about the way we live before many of us could give up our cars–though in a perfect world I’d never drive again.

  15. After almost 10 years of being able to use public transportation for my daily commute, I’m back to driving every day. You are right to worry – texting drivers, road rage, blatant disregard of lights and traffic signs (not to mention NO ONE stopping for pedestrians in crosswalks) – sorry to rant, but the things I see on a simple 10-minute drive are enough to strike fear into any mother’s heart.
    .-= Casey@Good. Food. Stories.´s last blog ..Good Luck Pork and Sauerkraut =-.

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