WASHINGTON -- Front-seat fatalities involving children have declined since 1996 as adults have become more aware that youngsters are safer in the back seat wearing seat belts, a study reported yesterday found.
Deaths involving those 12 or younger in the front seat dropped 46 percent from 1996 to 2003, according to a study by the Air Bag & Seat Belt Safety Campaign of the National Safety Council. The actual number of such deaths during that time span declined from 586 to 314.
The study examines progress made since 1996, when the government and safety groups became concerned about child fatalities involving air bags, which peaked at 31 deaths in 1997. The study appears in the upcoming issue of the National Safety Council's Journal of Safety Research.
Using government data, researchers said there was evidence that restraint use has increased among young children, with toddlers between ages 1 and 3 wearing restraints 90 percent of the time, compared with 60 percent in the mid-1990s.