They accounted for more than 62,000 hospitalisations and more than 304,000 days of hospitalisation during the study’s one-year period. “When compared with other sources of injury, children involved in motor vehicle crashes generally sustain more extensive and severe injuries,” said study co-author Lara McKenzie, PhD, MA, principal investigator in the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Columbus Children’s Hospital. “As a result, children’s lengths of stay in hospitals are longer and the accrued medical charges are higher.”

Hospital stays due to MVC-related injury ranged in length from one to 160 days, with the average length of stay being three days. Generally, adolescents 18 to 20 years of age had the longest hospital stays. That same age group also had the highest MVC-related hospitalisation rate, while adolescents 15-17-years-old had the second highest rate. Children 14-years-old and younger had considerably lower MVC-related hospitalisation rates. “Motor vehicle crash-related injuries take a remarkably heavy toll nationally in terms of deaths, life-long disability and economic costs,” said study co-author Gary Smith, MD, DrPH, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Columbus Children’s Hospital and a faculty member at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. “In our study, inpatient charges totalled more than an astounding $2 billion annually for children and adolescents alone in 2003. And we know that this number is a conservative estimate of the true cost of these injuries, because it does not include physician fees, rehabilitation costs, loss of parents’ time from work, loss of future earnings for the injured child and other related costs.”

As a result of the severe damage and costs, McKenzie proposes more focus for a better driving education: “Our study demonstrates that special attention needs to be given to adolescents ages 15 to 20 years.”; Source: Columbus Children's Hospital