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May 1993

Taxicabs and Child Restraint

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Pediatrics, Alfred I. duPont Institute, Wilmington, Del (Dr Walter) and the Department of Pediatrics, University of Maryland Medical Systems, Baltimore (Dr Kuo).

Am J Dis Child. 1993;147(5):561-564. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1993.02160290067028

• For young urban families who may not own a car, taxicabs are a common mode of transportation. We surveyed the frequency of taxicab use involving children younger than age 4 years in a Baltimore, Md, clinic population and studied pediatric occupant safety issues, including taxicab child restraint law exemptions, taxicab occupant morbidity/mortality data, and taxicab child restraint device availability. In our inner-city clinic, 84 (78%) of 108 families reported that they did not own a car and 64 (76%) of those without cars rode with their small children in taxicabs at least monthly (n=28), weekly (n=27), or daily (n=9), all without child restraints. Thirty-five of 50 states (70%) plus Washington, DC, exempt taxicabs from child restraint laws. Only 11 (27%) of 41 states with safety belt laws exempt taxicabs. There were 106 reported taxicab occupant fatalities from 1986 to 1990 in the United States, including 11 children and adolescents. National and state data on motor vehicle occupant morbidity do not separately examine taxicabs. Individual taxicab fleets we contacted would not release injury data. Of 50 urban taxicab fleets in four states (Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania), only three (6%) offered child restraint devices by advance telephone request. There was no difference in availability based on state taxicab exemptions from child restraint laws. We conclude that taxicab use involving young children is common in this inner-city population. Data on taxicab occupant injuries are needed. Child restraint law exemptions for taxicabs should be eliminated. Education about, and enforcement of, child restraint laws for taxicabs is needed. Recent local legislation linking child restraint device availability to taxicab licensure should be encouraged.

(AJDC. 1993;147:561-564)