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Children in Taxis: An Opportunity for Pediatricians and Emergency Physicians to Save Lives?

Keshavarz, Reza MD, MPH*; Patel, Romil MD; Bachar, Roy; Laddis, Dimitri MD

doi: 10.1097/01.pec.0000238742.96606.20
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Objective: Child safety devices (infant seats, booster seats, and seat belts) are effective in curbing the risk of injury; however, there remains a pattern of parental nonuse or misuse of safety seats. The aim of this study was to assess the level of knowledge and compliance of parents with children presenting for emergency care of the National Highway and Traffic Association safety seat guidelines in private cars and taxicabs.

Methods: Two hundred forty-two caregivers of children (ages range, 2 weeks to 19 years) presenting for care in the pediatric emergency department of an urban university hospital were approached to complete an interviewer-administered questionnaire, and 225 participated. The questionnaire included knowledge, attitude, and behavior questions on protective equipment for various aged children.

Results: Eleven (47.8%) of 23 children 1 year or younger were reported to use infant seats often or always while riding in private cars, compared with 8 (22.2%) of 36 children 1 year or younger were reported to their use while in taxis (P < 0.05). Seventeen (85%) of 20 children older than 8 years were reported to have used seat belts often or always in private cars versus 10 (41.7%) of 24 in taxis (P < 0.01). One hundred fifty-four (99.3%) of 155 subjects knew the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommended position for the safety seat for their child. Most parents believed in the efficacy of child safety seats in preventing vehicle injuries and reported they would be more likely to use safety devices if they received information on their use in the emergency department.

Conclusions: Data from this survey show that use of safety seats is lower in taxis than in private automobiles and that this is attributable to the inconvenience of carrying these seats to and from the taxi rather than financial considerations or lack of knowledge about their effectiveness. Strategies should be sought to increase availability of child safety devices in taxicabs. The emergency department, as well as the pediatrician's office or clinic, can be a locus for an educational intervention to parents and caregivers on child passenger safety.

*North General Hospital, †Mount Sinai School of Medicine and ‡The State University of New York at Buffalo, New York, NY.

This study was supported by grants from the Patricia Levinson Foundation and the Sherman Family Pediatric Emergency Medicine Research Fund.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Reza Keshavarz, MD, MPH, North General Hospital, 1879 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10035. E-mail: rkblade@yahoo.com.

© 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.