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Children dying less often in crashes

ATLANTA — Children are dying less often in traffic accidents. Over a decade, the number who died in crashes dropped by 43 percent, according to a new government report.

Health officials say the increased use of car seats and booster seats drove the decline. Still, one-third of the children 12 and under who died in 2011 were not buckled up.

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‘‘The first step is buckling up. Every child, of every age, on every trip,’’ said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC report focused on crash deaths of children 12 and under and covered 2002 through 2011, when traffic fatalities overall declined to levels not seen since the 1940s.

Young children traditionally have been only a small fraction of total traffic deaths. In the last year of the study, children accounted for 650 of the 21,000 deaths of drivers and passengers. Preliminary CDC figures for 2012 show child deaths continued to fall, to 637.

‘‘Children aren’t going drinking, and they’re not typically out at night,’’ said Jonathan Adkins, deputy director of the Governors Highway Safety Association.

Teens and young adults account for the largest share of deaths, he added.

The CDC study was not designed to answer why the deaths of younger children declined. But specialists credited a large growth in state laws requiring car seats and booster seats, and in programs that promote buckling children up.

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