Drinking and Driving
- Don't drink and drive!
- Nearly 40 percent of all traffic deaths and hundreds of thousands of injuries each year are alcohol-related.
- An estimated 12,998 people died in alcohol-related traffic crashes in 2007 - a 3.7 percent decrease over the previous year (13,491 deaths).
Aggressive Driving/Road Rage
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has estimated that aggressive driving contributes to a substantial number of all the fatal motor vehicle crashes in America. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines aggressive driving as operation of a motor vehicle that endangers or is likely to endanger people or property. It is a progression of unlawful driving actions that includes speeding, improper or excessive lane changing and improper passing.
What to do when confronted by an aggressive driver:
- Make every attempt to get out of the way.
- Put your pride in the back seat. Do not challenge him or her by speeding up or attempting to "hold-your-own" in your travel lane.
- Wear your seat belt. It will hold you in your seat and behind the wheel in case you need to make an abrupt driving maneuver, and it will protect you in a crash.
- Avoid eye contact.
- Ignore gestures and refuse to return them.
- Correct any unsafe driving habits that may provoke other drivers.
Bicycle helmet use is the single most effective way to reduce head injuries and fatalities resulting from crashes, but only about one quarter of 85 million riders in America wear them.
- About 540,000 bicyclists are treated in emergency departments with injuries every year. Nearly 800 bicyclists died in 2005, and more than 50 percent of them were children.
- Bicycle helmets are nearly 90 percent effective in preventing brain injuries.
- In 2001, 3,181 motorcyclists were killed and nearly 60,000 were injured in highway crashes in the United States, a 50-percent increase over 1997 (NHTSA).
- Motorcycle helmets are 67 percent effective in preventing brain injuries. Unhelmeted motorcyclists are more than three times more likely to suffer brain injuries in crashes than those using helmets.
Lightning is one of the most dangerous and frequently encountered weather hazards - the second largest killer of people in storms in the United States since 1959.
The National Weather Service estimates that lightning strikes the earth about 25 million times per year in the United States.
A few simple precautions can reduce a person's risk for lightning injury:
- Seek shelter when a thunderstorm is approaching.
- Avoid tall structures, such as isolated trees and flag poles.
- Stay away from open fields, open structures or vehicles, or contact with conducive material, such as computers and telephones.
- Avoid being near or in water.
- If you or someone you know is struck by lightning, seek medical care immediately. Someone struck by lightning does not carry a charge and is safe to touch.
Sixty-eight thousand pedestrians were injured in traffic crashes in 2004. On average, a pedestrian is injured every eight minutes in the United States.
There were 4,641 pedestrians killed in traffic crashes in 2004 - a 15-percent decrease from the statistics reported in 1994 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Alcohol involvement - for driver or pedestrian - was reported in nearly half of all traffic crashes resulting in pedestrian deaths.
How to protect yourself as a pedestrian:
- Use sidewalks.
- Know and obey safety rules (e.g., if a "don't walk" signal starts blinking when you're halfway across an intersection, continue walking).
- Cross only at intersections and crosswalks.
- Look left, right, and left again for traffic before stepping off the curb.
- See and be seen.
- Closely watch children and teach them the safety rules.
Seat Belts - Buckle Up!
Every day, emergency physicians see the tragic consequences of people not wearing safety belts. At the moment of impact in a traffic crash, people in the car are still traveling at the original speed. When the motor vehicle rapidly comes to a stop, anyone not wearing a safety belt will continue to move at that speed until their body slams into the steering wheel, windshield, other parts of the interior, or they are ejected from the vehicle. For example, in a 55 mph crash, unbelted passengers of average size fly forward with a force of 3,000 pounds - enough to cause serious injury or death. Passengers in the backseat are just as vulnerable as those in the front.
- Every hour someone dies in America simply because they are not wearing a safety belt. Failure to buckle up contributes to more fatalities than any other single behavior.
- When lap and shoulder belts are used correctly, they reduce the risk of fatal injury to front-safety passengers by 45 percent and the risk of moderate to critical injury by 50 percent.
- Approximately 60 percent of passengers killed in traffic crashes were not wearing safety belts, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
- Safety belts save nearly 14,600 lives each year, saving $50 million in medical care and preventing 325,000 serious injuries in America each year. They are the most effective means of reducing deaths and serious injuries in traffic crashes.
- Speeding was a factor in 30 percent of fatal crashes in 2004, killing an average of more than 1,000 people each month (13,192 total).
- Excessive speed reduces a driver's ability to respond to unexpected road hazards, increases the distance needed for braking, and increases the severity of a crash once it occurs.
Source: American College of Emergency Physicians