Project: Serious Injuries to Child Occupants of Cars

Reference: S070N/VF

Last update: 09/09/2003 09:45:31


The objective of this research was to examine the feasibility, methodology and costs of a system to investigate serious injuries to children.


Existing sources of information on injuries to child occupants of vehicles tend to concentrate on either end of the injury severity scale - the slight injuries and the fatalities. The injury mechanisms for the middle range - the seriously injured children - are not well documented. The Department of Transport (Vehicle Standards and Engineering Division) therefore commissioned the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) to undertake a study of the various possible mechanisms by which such data could be obtained. The information could be used to inform decisions and recommendations on improvements to the design of both vehicles and child restraints, so as to mitigate these injuries.

The original idea was to pilot the methods which seemed most promising, producing some data on real accidents and confirming both cost estimates and that the proposed data collection systems actually worked in practice. However, this proved impossible, partly due to the short time scale involved in the project and the absence of a guaranteed continuation into a full-scale project. This made potential contractors wary of committing both themselves and, more importantly, their police and hospital contacts to setting up new procedures and even taking on extra staff.

Other possible sources of data examined involved linking pre-existing medical databases to Stats 19 and thence to the hardcopy police accident reports. This is potentially a much cheaper source of information, but the level of detail obtainable, particularly as regards restraint characteristics, is likely to be rather poor. Experience with police fatal accident files indicates that descriptions of vehicle damage can also be somewhat variable in quality.

Three possible methods of data collection have been identified as being practically feasible and financially viable. Two of these involve specialised accident investigations, with costs of the order of £1,000 per case. The other would involve using pre-existing sources, with costs of the order of a few hundred pounds per case.


TRL Limited
Crowthorne House, Nine Mile Ride, Wokingham, Berkshire, RG40 3GA
+44 (0)1344 773131

Contract details

Cost to the Department: £40,000.00

Actual start date: 01 September 1995

Actual completion date: 30 November 1996


PR/VE/214/96. Serious Injuries to Child Occupants in Cars. A data collection Feasibility Study
Author: TRL Ltd
Publication date: 01/09/1996
Source: Contact

Summary of results

  1. The results indicated how a child serious injury accident study could be carried out.