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News Keeping Children Safe by Identifying Dangerous Hot Spots

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Children's Optimal Health and Dell Children's host summit on reducing transportation-related child injury in Austin

AUSTIN, Texas - (March 21, 2012) -Children's Optimal Health (COH), in collaboration with Dell Children's Medical Center of Central Texas, the Austin Police Department (APD) and other community agencies, are using mapping technology to identify areas where children are most likely to be injured.

Injury is the leading cause of death and disability for children in Texas, cutting short the lives of 651 children annually. The most recent data shows Dell Children's alone served 1,310 pediatric trauma patients in 2010.

COH's Transportation Related Child Injury Project mapped two of the leading causes of child injury: motor vehicle collisions and pedestrian/cycling injuries.

The majority of maps presented at today's summit layer data from Dell Children's and APD. Mapping of this data allow for the identification of intersections that are particularly dangerous as well as neighborhoods that have a high number of children injured in transportation-related accidents. APD data on children injured in motor vehicle collisions by age reveal that children aged 16-17 years of age are noticeably more vulnerable. The identification of neighborhoods, intersections and incidence profiles showcases child injury prevention improvement needed in the community.

In the fall of 2010, a sub-group of these maps was used in a collaborative effort to study areas ranked among the top 10 for child pedestrian and cyclist injury (Map #1 below). The City of Austin Transportation Department and the Injury Prevention Program at Dell Children's provided training to graduate students at the University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work, who then performed observational analyses of the intersections. The students presented their results and recommendations for environmental changes and enforcement strategies to the City of Austin and APD that will be discussed at today's summit.

Maps from this project have also identified where child passenger safety resources are located in the community and have impacted service allocation (Map #2 below). For example, the Khol's Booster Buddies program utilizes these maps to determine areas of greatest need for education and access to free booster seats in Austin.
Attendees for the summit being held at the Seton Administration Offices include representatives from Austin/Travis County Health & Human Services, the City of Austin, University of Texas, AISD, TxDOT, Dell Children's, and several other organizations serving Central Texas.

Possible outcomes of the summit are:

  • Further study of the built environment, leading to environmental improvements where needed (e.g., lighting, traffic signals, speed reduction measures)
  • Allocation of law enforcement resources
  • Driver education / skills training programs
  • Placement of public awareness campaigns
  • Coordination between local and state transportation entities

Last year, COH presented a mapping project focused on raising awareness of the mental health needs of children in Central Texas. Other mapping projects have focused on child obesity, prenatal care access and child mobility. Some results include: identification of hot spots of overweight and obese middle school students for community organizations; identification of neighborhood level food and physical activity environments; the use of maps for grant proposals by direct service agencies and initiatives as well as by Central Health and others for strategic planning purposes.

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