Thursday, December 17, 2009

Children in Pickup Trucks

Pickup trucks have become increasingly popular in the United States. A recent study found that in crashes involving fatalities, cargo area passengers were 3 times more likely to die than were occupants in the cab. Compared with restrained cab occupants, the risk of death for those in the cargo area was 8 times higher. Furthermore, the increased use of extended-cab pickup trucks and air bag-equipped front passenger compartments creates concerns about the safe transport of children. The most effective preventive strategies are the legislative prohibition of travel in the cargo area and requirements for age-appropriate restraint use and seat selection in the cab. Parents should select vehicles that are appropriate for the safe transportation needs of the family. Physicians have an important role in counseling families and advocating public policy measures to reduce the number of deaths and injuries to occupants of pickup trucks.

Motor vehicle trauma remains a leading cause of death of children. Occupants in pickup trucks should receive the same level of protection provided in other vehicles according to national policies that address protection of motor vehicle occupants. The safety issues relevant for pickup trucks include the following: 1) prohibition of cargo area travel; 2) age-appropriate restraint use; 3) appropriate seat location in the cab; 4) appropriate use of rear seating positions in various models of extended cab vehicles; and 5) risk of air bag-related injuries.

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