Sixty-nine children aged under 15 years were identified from coroners' records as having died as a result of an accident between 1980 and 1989. Road traffic accidents (RTAs) accounted for the majority of cases (n = 38; 55% of total) and in almost all of these, the unsafe behaviour of the child was considered to be at fault. Most fatal accidents occurred between 15.00 and 21.00 hrs and within 2 km of the child's home; the majority of children killed were not supervised by an adult at the time of the accident. Considerable variation in mortality within the district was observed with several areas having a rate significantly higher than the district as a whole. Head injury was the most commonly recorded cause of death (n = 37, 53%) confirming the importance of head injury as a cause of childhood mortality. Road safety educational and engineering measures as well as adequate adult supervision and awareness could have prevented the vast majority of these accidental deaths. Coroners records are a vital and often poorly utilized source of locally relevant information regarding childhood accidents which should be of use to all interested agencies including child accident prevention groups.
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