Agencies | Governor
Search Virginia.Gov
Protecting You and Your Environment Virginia Department of Health
Home | VDH Programs | Find It! A-Z Index | Newsroom | Administration | Jobs | Data
Facebook LinkedIn Twitter YouTube


July 8, 2009

For More Information Contact

  • Phil Giaramita, 804-864-7008


(RICHMOND, Va.)— A new report from the Virginia Department of Health found that most motor vehicle accidents that result in child deaths occur during the day, in clear weather conditions and on dry roads. The report, from the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office, also found that 56 percent of all children were not wearing some form of safety restraint equipment at the time of the accident compared to a statewide average of 30 percent for all motor vehicle occupants.

The report was compiled by Virginia’s State Child Fatality Review Team. It reviewed motor vehicle collision deaths involving children and found that 105 children died from such accidents in 2002, the most recent year for which data were accessible.

“The review team found that most of these tragic child deaths were preventable if a few simple practices were followed,” said Dr. Leah Bush, the state’s Chief Medical Examiner and chair of the review team. “Driving at a safe speed, focusing complete attention on the operation of a motor vehicle and being vigilant in supervising young children in and around a motor vehicle are essential to the protection of lives.”

Among the report’s major findings:

  • Alcohol or drug use was a factor in 26 percent of collisions reviewed by the team and 46 percent of the accidents involved drivers under the age of 18
  • More than 60 percent of all fatal collisions involving children occurred during daylight hours and in 75 percent of those instances, the weather was clear and road surfaces were dry
  • 80 percent of all children under the age of 2 who were killed as pedestrians were playing in a driveway setting
  • Collisions involving drivers under the age of 18 with passengers occurred most frequently in the northern part of the state while collisions involving drivers under the age of 18 who were alone occurred most often in the southwestern part of Virginia
  • The most common driver actions contributing to a motor vehicle collision were running off the road, speeding, reckless driving, inattention and overcorrection

The review team offered 34 recommendations for reducing deaths caused by motor vehicles, including additional training for juvenile court judges, enhanced educational programs by the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles and the Virginia Department for the Aging and further study and review of driver education programs offered in the state.

The Virginia Department of Health currently coordinates a child passenger safety program that promotes proper use of safety restraints and distributes 16,000 safety seats each year to families that qualify by income. The program also includes a network of local officials throughout the state who are certified child passenger safety technicians. These technicians will inspect safety and booster seats to ensure that they are properly installed. For more information about the child safety seat program or child passenger safety, call (800) 732-8333 or visit

Members of the State Child Fatality Review Team include:

Leah L.E. Bush, M.D., Chair
Virginia Department of Health
Office of the Chief Medical Examiner


Wayne Barry, Ed.D.
Virginia Department of Education
Office of Student Services


Heather Funkhouser Board, MPH
Virginia Department of Health
Division of Injury and Violence Prevention


William M. Carr, M.D.
Medical Society of Virginia


Betty Wade Coyle, M.A.
Prevent Child Abuse Virginia


Robin L. Foster, M.D.
Virginia College of Emergency Physicians


Wendy M. Gunther, M.D.
Virginia Department of Health
Office of the Chief Medical Examiner


Edward H. Holmes, MSW
Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice Services


Katharine Hunter, MSW
Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services

Rita L. Katzman, MSW
Virginia Department of Social Services
Child Protective Services

Laurel S. Marks, J.D.
Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services

Regina M. Milteer, M.D.
Virginia Pediatric Society/Virginia Chapter,
American Academy of Pediatrics


Theresa K. Newman, M.A., M.S.Ed., LPC
Chesapeake Community Services Board
Virginia SIDS Alliance


James Q. Pope, J.D., MSW
Fairfax County Department of Family Services


Janet M. Rainey
Virginia Department of Health
Division of Vital Records


Neil Sonenklar, M.D.
Virginia Treatment Center for Children


Detective Sgt. Mark E. Thatcher
New Kent County Sheriff’s Office


Wanda G. Willis
Harrisonburg Fire Department


Nicholas A. Wooten
Hampton Fire and Rescue


Joan Ziglar, J.D., MPA
Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney
City of Martinsville

Last Updated: 09-04-2009

Printable Version

E-mail This Page