NHTSA, for the first time, is keeping track of “not-in-traffic” injuries and deaths. In its first year of data, 2007, the system estimated that there were 262 child fatalities and approximately 115,000 injuries related to not-in-traffic incidents.
The Not-In-Traffic Surveillance System (NiTS) is a virtual database that tracks incidents of vehicular death and injury on private property. Prior to the establishment of NiTS, the federal government only kept statistics for crashes that occurred in traffic on public roads, streets, and highways, which neglected incidents that occurred in moving or parked vehicles on private property, such as private roads, driveways, and parking lots.
NiTS was required as a component of the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act, which was signed by the president in February 2008. The June 2009 issue of NHTSA’s publication Crash*Stats gives a brief statistical study of a subset of the data involving children under 14. The study found the vast majority of child fatalities (210) were due to frontover or backover incidents with children standing, walking, or on bicycles near vehicles. Hyperthermia caused 27 deaths and was the leading cause of noncrash fatalities.
The study can be found at http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811116.pdf. NHTSA has also developed a new website section, “Keeping Kids Safe: Inside & Out,” that can be accessed at www.safercar.gov. The site alerts visitors to the main types of NiT dangers and provides prevention tips.
Prior to the development of NiTS, private organizations were the primary keepers of noncrash, nontraffic statistics, most notably the nonprofit KidsAndCars.org. KidsAndCars.org is responsible for the initiation and successful passage of the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act. In a June press release, Janette Fennell of that organization commented that, although the NiTS system is a welcome tool for establishing the importance of these issues, some counts appear to be incomplete. In particular, her data confirms an average of 40 annual hyperthermia deaths, far more than the 27 reported by NiTS.
Private organizations continue to provide a wealth of educational information and support on the subject of not-in-traffic incidents:
KidsAndCars.org — Information regarding statistics, incident details, policy, prevention products and tips, survivor advocacy, and links. In May, Janette Fennell of KidsAndCars.org spoke before the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection during a hearing entitled “Auto Safety: Existing Mandates and Emerging Issues.” A copy of her written testimony, which outlines the key issues and challenges facing the CPS industry, can be viewed at www.saferidenews.com.
Harrison’s Hope — Harrison’s Hope, dedicated to the safety of children in and around cars, has developed the “Zero Seconds Program,” an educational approach to spreading the word about prevention of nontraffic tragedies. A DVD and a CD-ROM with printable educational materials is available for $17.25 at www.harrisonshope.org.
Golden Gate Weather Services — Adjunct Professor of Meteorology Jan Null of San Francisco State University maintains vehicular hyperthermia incident data and details by state, including links to newspaper articles for each incident. Go to http://ggweather.com, and click on “weather links.”
SafeKids USA — SafeKids offers a free web-based course called “In and Around Cars” which is geared toward parents, caregivers, and the general public. A set of 35 slides identifies dangers, gives tips to reduce risk, and points learners to related resources. Go to www.safekidswebinars.org.
©Safe Ride News July/August 2009