Child & adolescent injuries

“When we ask people if they think Zero Fatalities on Utah’s roads is an achievable goal, most people tell us no. But when we ask them how many of their loved ones they’d be willing to lose in a crash, they quickly realize that Zero is the only acceptable number.”

Utah statistics

  • Each year in Utah, an average of 24 students are hurt at school each school day.
  • Over 5,000 school days are missed each year, 9-1-1 is called twice a day, and a student is hospitalized every other day because of a student injury.
  • During the 2016–2021 school years, 3,117  Utah students suffered a concussion while at school.1
  • In 2021, a crash occurred in Utah every 8.5 minutes, a person was injured in a crash every 20 minutes, and a person died in a crash every 26 hours.
  • Motor vehicle crashes take a terrible toll on Utah families and communities and are a leading cause of injury-related death for Utahns.
  • According to the Utah Highway Safety Office, in 2021 there were 61,406 motor vehicle crashes on public roadways in Utah, resulting in 26,437 injuries and 332 deaths.2
See the data

Safe Kids Utah helps families and communities keep kids safe from injuries. Most people are surprised to learn preventable injuries are the #1 killer of kids in the United States. Throughout the world, almost 1 million children die of an injury each year, and almost every 1 of these tragedies is preventable.

Losing 1 child is 1 too many, and we don't want any parent to have to endure the loss of a child. We're calling on everyone to come together, to raise awareness and to get involved. Saving lives is a decision we can all make every day.

Learn More

Ways to Prevent Crashes

  • Always wear a seatbelt when traveling in any type of vehicle.
  • Use car seats with age appropriate children (0–8) and know how to correctly install the car seat.
  • Encourage seatbelt usage as a norm throughout your community.
  • Support policies that reduce or prevent  impaired driving (interlocks, etc).
  • Create environments that prevent impaired driving (designated drivers, etc).
  • Encourage your school provides playgrounds with soft surfaces.
  • Build family support and connectedness.
  • Build a positive relationship and commitment to school administrators.
  • Provide proper supervision/ parental engagement.
  • Teach your child problem solving skills.

Teen Driving

In 2021, 46 teenage drivers were involved in a fatal crash; a total of 31 teens were killed in these crashes. Following too closely was the number one contributing factor in crashes involving teens, followed by failure to yield right-of-way.3 

The good news is, teen driver crashes have been decreasing since 1996. And with passage of Utah’s Graduated Driver License or GDL laws, the motor vehicle crash death rate for teens ages 15-17 has decreased by 58% since 1999.4 Parents play an important role in keeping their teens safe on the road. In fact, research has shown that parents who set rules and pay attention to their teen’s driving activities in a helpful, supportive way can cut their teen’s crash risk by half.5

In 2021, 34 teens lost their lives on Utah’s roads.

Read their stories.


Teen Memoriams

If you or someone you know has lost a teen in a motor vehicle crash, we want to hear your story. Each year we publish a Teen Memoriam which tells the stories of teens killed on Utah roads the previous year, as told by their grieving families. The books are given to driver education instructors throughout the state. The books have been evaluated in several high schools and analysis of the data showed that students were more likely to adhere to Utah's Graduated Driver Licensing laws, commit to driving safely, and understand the risks associated with driving after reading them. In addition, 95% of students who had read the books felt other teens learning to drive should read these stories.

Student injuries

The Utah Department of Health and Human Services tracks these injuries through a voluntary program called the Student Injury Reporting System. The data helps schools identify problem areas, eliminate risks for injury (such as repairing broken equipment), and develop programs to reduce students’ risks for injury.

If you have questions, the Utah Department of Health and Human Services tracks these injuries through a voluntary program called the Student Injury Reporting System please email studentinjury@utah.gov.

Each year in Utah, an average of 24 students are hurt at school each school day.


In Utah elementary schools (grades K-6), 2,721 student injuries were reported during the 2021-2022 school year. In addition, among elementary school students (grades K-6): 
  • 69% of student injuries occur on the playground or play field, 88% of which happened during recess.
  • The activities during which injuries occur the most are running (23%), playing on bars (19%), and walking (10%).
  • The most common injuries received are fracture/breaks, cut/lacerations, concussions, and bump/bruise/contusions.
  • Establish playground safety rules (such as no pushing, crowding, or shoving) with consequences for breaking rules.
  • Always have trained adult supervisors present who:

    • Spread out and avoid congregating in groups.
    • Walk around the entire perimeter of the playground.
    • Find areas that allow sight from one end of the playground to the other.
  • Develop a playground inspection and equipment maintenance checklist.
  • Schedule regular inspections and promptly repair broken playground equipment.
  • Establish a school climate that demonstrates respect, support, and caring and does not tolerate harassment or bullying.
  • Provide first aid training for school staff as outlined by state guidelines.
“Our school’s recess rules are exactly what they should be. The rules are in place to keep us out of harm’s way.”
Darrell, a 5th grade student

Secondary public school injuries

In Utah secondary schools (grades 7-12), 2,240 student injuries were reported during the 2021-2022 school year.  In addition, among secondary school students (grades 7-12):
  • 33% of student injuries occur in the gym. Collisions cause 38% of these injuries followed by tripping or slipping (18%) and an overexertion/twisted (14%).
  • Injuries most often occurred during PE class.
  • The most common activities during which injuries occur during PE class were playing basketball (17%), volleyball (8%), and running (8%).
  • The most common injuries received were fracture/breaks, sprain/strain/tears, concussions, and cump/bruise/contusions.
  • Provide regular injury prevention training for staff and students.
  • P.E. teachers and coaches should be certified in CPR and first aid.
  • Develop safety rules for gyms and train students to use equipment properly.
  • Equipment should be in good condition and appropriate for the child’s age and size.
  • Every athlete should receive a pre-season physical exam by a qualified healthcare provider.
  • Ensure that sports programs include conditioning, personal protective gear, and adult supervision.
  • Have a trainer, physician, or EMT present at all athletic practices and competitions.
  • Every athletic program should have an emergency plan to address medical care of injured athletics.
  • Athletes should never play a sport when injured unless cleared by a healthcare provider.
  • Conduct regular safety and hazard assessments in gyms and on sports fields.

References

  1. Utah Department of Health and Human Services, Violence and Injury Prevention Program, Student Injury Reporting System.
  2. Utah Crash Facts 2021, Utah Department of Public Safety <chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/https://highwaysafety.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2023/03/2021-Crash-Facts-Revised.pdf>. 
  3. Crash Data Dashboard, Utah Department of Public Safety <https://highwaysafety.utah.gov/crash-data/>. 
  4. Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health (IBIS-PH), Utah Department of Health and Human Services <http://ibis.health.utah.gov>. 
  5. The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Teen Driver Source <https://www.teendriversource.org/teen-crash-risks-prevention>.