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Health & Parenting

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Car Surfing Deadly, Even at Slow Speeds

Car-Surfing Injuries Killed At Least 58 People From 1990 to 2008, Says CDC
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Oct. 16, 2008 -- At least 58 people in the U.S., mostly teenage boys, died from injuries suffered while "car surfing" over the last 18 years, the CDC reports.

The CDC defines car surfing as a "thrill-seeking activity that involves riding on the exterior of a moving motor vehicle while it's being driven by someone else."

The CDC checked U.S. newspaper records for reports of car-surfing deaths and injuries from 1990 to 2008 and found 58 reports of car-surfing deaths and 41 reports of nonfatal car-surfing injuries. Boys aged 15-19 accounted for most of the cases; head injuries were the leading cause of death.

In 52% of the fatal cases, the vehicle was moving at less than 30 miles per hour when the car surfer died.

In one case, a 14-year-old boy had jumped onto the hood of a friend's car as it pulled out of a driveway. The car was moving at 5 miles per hour when the car hit a bump in the driveway; the boy hit his head and died.

"Parents and teens should be aware of the potentially lethal consequences of car surfing, which can occur even at low vehicle speeds, sometimes resulting from unanticipated movements of the vehicle, such as swerving or braking," states the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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