Teenagers are getting injured or killed by riding on the outside of a moving vehicle – an activity known as car surfing – according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) review of newspaper articles. The information was released in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The report also noted that car surfing injuries and deaths were reported at a wide range of vehicle speeds, from as low as 5 mph up to 80 mph. CDC researchers examined 18 years of news reports from January 1990 to August 2008 using a newspaper article database. The researchers found 99 reported incidents of car surfing, 58% of which were fatal. The following conclusions were reached by the researchers:
• In the news stories reviewed, the average age of those injured or killed was 17.6, with males accounting for 70% of the victims.
• The largest number of car surfing injuries and deaths reported in U.S. newspapers occurred in August.
• Most (74%) of the news stories involved incidents in the Midwest and the South.
• Three out of four of the news stories reported car surfing deaths were caused by a bump or blow to the head.
• The news stories also suggest that car surfing may be both seasonal and regional in nature.
The media analysis also found that in 29% of incidents, a sudden movement or maneuver was mentioned, such as an abrupt turn or sudden braking, which caused the person car surfing to fall off the vehicle. These types of falls can result in serious injuries or death, even at slow speeds. Car surfing is not only a dumb thing to do – it’s also very dangerous.
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