EIRMC – Motor Vehicle and Road Safety

HI, I’m Dr. Justin Thompson one of the board certified emergency room physicians, at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center. Today, we are going to talk about motor vehicle and road safety. Motor vehicle accidents are the number one cause of death for ages 5 to 25 and the number two cause of death for age 25 and older and toddlers. Last year at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, we cared for over fourteen hundred trauma patients. Over half of those were car accidents. Overwhelmingly these injuries can be prevented. Today we’re going to talk about some tips to help you and I be safer on the roads, and prevent these injuries. Seat belts are by far your best protection against avoiding injury and even death in a car accident. That is why 49 out of the 50 states have seatbelt laws which are very important to follow. Some studies have even shown that upwards of ninety five percent of people that wear seatbelts escaped injury free from a motor vehicle collision. Compare that with only five percent of people who escaped injury free, who did not wear their seatbelt. Imagine having a ninety-five percent chance of winning the lottery. I like those odds. Airbags are also important and can help prevent an injury during the crash but only when used with a properly bucket seat belt. Airbags explode with such a force that it’s important that children under 13 years of age, or less than 100 pounds, be restrained in the back seat rather than the front seat. The best way to protect your child in the car is to put them in the proper seat in the right place in the proper way. Restraint use among children often depends on the driver’s use of seatbelts. When the driver is seatbelted over ninety-five percent of children are also seat-belted properly in the rear seats. Appropriately used car seats and booster seats reduce the risk of injury or death to a child in a car accident by up to eighty one percent, compared with forty five percent of improperly used restraints and or car seats. There are many distractions that we have while driving but cell phone use tops the list. There is no safe way to use a cell phone while driving. Every year over 25% of all motor vehicle accidents – that’s up to 1.3 million accidents – are attributed to cell phone use. Driving under the influence is a deadly proposition. Consuming alcohol, prescription drugs or even some over-the-counter drugs can impair your ability to make clear decisions while driving. Last year alone, over 10,000 people lost their lives due to motor vehicle accidents while under the influence of alcohol. Another 4,000 people also lost their lives due to other drugs besides alcohol. The best solution is to always drive sober. Plan in advance and if you plan to drink outside the home make sure that you have a sober driver or another safe way to drive home. Driving while angry or under other emotional duress can impair your ability to drive safely. Plan ahead, leave early so you don’t feel stressed to arrive at your destination in less time. If you find yourself becoming frustrated with other drivers or driving conditions, take a deep breath, imagine your son or daughter driving that vehicle, give them the same courtesies that you would expect from other drivers. Speeding is also a factor in over 1/3 of all fatal motor vehicle accidents. Most people think that speeding is only a problem on our interstate highways. However, the majority of fatal crashes occur in our neighborhood streets at under highway speeds. Small children, especially under the age of four are at high risk for being run over even in their own driveway. Drivers should be acutely aware of their surroundings at all times and even walk around their car prior to backing out of their driveway to avoid these tragic accidents. Mirrors and even rear view cameras will not always show a child behind your car. Please be cautious and again walk around your vehicle to prevent these accidents. Young children should not be allowed to play in or around cars without adult supervision. Cars should remain locked to help prevent this. Children can become trapped inside the car or even inside the trunk and this will help prevent serious injury. During the spring and summer, it is common for people to leave their children in cars while they just run in for a quick errand. This should be avoided. Even at low temperatures such as 70 degrees, a child can suffer severe heat stroke while left in a car. You should take your child with you while running errands and lock your car to prevent other children from entering your car and suffering further injury. One simple tip to help you remember not to leave your child in the car is to put something of value in the backseat with your child, such as your cell phone, to help prevent you from using your cell phone during driving or even your purse. As a level 2 trauma center, we are well equipped and very capable of handling all and any accidents. However, prevention is key.