Health Care and Traffic Accidents

- February 11, 2014
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Have you ever been in a car wreck? Whether you have experienced anything from a minor “fender bender” to a full blown accident and the vehicle was totaled, you likely had some type of injuries related to the event. Not only a physical trauma is possible, but your psychological and emotional well being can be affected as well. Sometimes, those with more dangerous accidents—those who are still alive to talk about it— may also suffer from PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. And, there is a large number of accidents that are fatal. Traffic accidents have come down over the past 10 years, but there are a lot that still happen every day.

On average, another person dies in a car crash every 12 minutes in this country - that's approximately 123 deaths per day, according to Through the coordinated efforts of automobile designers, manufacturers and organizations like the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) and the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety), the safest cars, with the most advanced safety features are being driven off car lots each year. If that is the case, what are the most common causes of car accidents?

 Well, there are four major factors that contribute to vehicle accidents. They are, in ascending order, mechanical issues, road design / maintenance, road condition, and poor driver performance. The latter is, of course, the most significant, and 95% of all accidents involving motor vehicles - worldwide - include poor driver performance in tandem with one of the other three. If you drive long enough, chances are you will have an accident, or know someone who does. Accidents on the road in the US are so common that the number of individuals injured every year is in the millions.

While distractions can cause accidents - cell phone conversations, sipping coffee, applying make-up - the biggest cause of vehicle accidents is speeding, though aggression is quickly becoming a significant cause as well. Law enforcement officers are also generally quick to remind us that the chance of a motor vehicle accident increase by 50% once the sun goes down. According to, the following factors (in order) cause the most accidents - and all of them are under the driver's control:

--Unsafe or too-frequent lane changing.
--Not using turn signals.
--Not yielding the right of way.
--Ignoring traffic signals.
--Driving while impaired by alcohol or chemicals

The good news is that children fatalities due to traffic accidents and are going down, according to CBS News. 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. 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. More info is at this site:

 Researchers in Sweden recently have found that people with ADHD are about 50 percent more likely to be in serious traffic accidents, compared to people without the condition, according to Fox News. But taking medication to control some of the symptoms may help reduce that increased risk - at least among men, according to the study. The researchers write in JAMA Psychiatry that while they can't say why there appeared to be an increased risk of serious traffic accidents among people with ADHD, past research has attributed it to inattentiveness and impulsivity. More details can be found here:

CNN has reported that motor vehicle accidents don't just impact the people involved, they also impact the economy, to the tune of just under $100 billion for medical care and injury-related productivity losses in the United States each year, according to a study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Wednesday. That includes $3.6 billion annually toward injuries to children. Every 10 seconds, someone in the United States is treated in an emergency department for crash-related injuries.

 According to the study in 2010, injuries, both fatal and nonfatal, to people riding in cars and light trucks cost $70 billion a year. Injuries to motorcyclists cost $12 billion. Bicyclists and pedestrians, who are vulnerable against motor vehicles, cost $5 billion and $10 billion a year respectively, as noted by the CDC. The study also found the amount of money that goes toward motorcyclists' and pedestrians' injuries is disproportionate when compared to the number of injuries, likely due to the severity of their injuries.

While motorcyclists only account for 6 percent of motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries, they lead to 12 percent of the costs. And pedestrians, who only comprise 5 percent of motor vehicle-related deaths and injuries, consume 10 percent of the total costs, according to the study. More info is found at this site:

Any way you look at it, traffic accidents can cause serious harm and injury, even death in tens of thousands of cases. There are causes for all of them, including weather conditions, speed, lack of attention, and other factors. The bottom line is that safety is paramount, and paying attention to your road conditions is extremely important to keep you safe. If you drive, remember to buckle up, watch your speed and the other drivers around you, and follow directions. Be careful.

Until next time.
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