Injuries

“Ninety percent of injuries suffered by Canadians are predictable and preventable,” says Dr Barry McLellan, chair of the National Trauma Registry Advisory Committee.

Why are they predictable and preventable?

They are predictable because we know the circumstances under which most accidents occur. They are preventable because, most of the time, the events leading to accidents can be modified.

Injuries can be intentional (suicides, homicides) or unintentional (motor vehicle accidents, falls, poisoning, fires, drowning).

With the weather getting better there are more people on the roads. They are walking, jogging, biking, or driving. Can we do something for them so they can safely enjoy what they are doing?

Yes, the following ten principles of injury prevention are developed from the information contained in the Alberta Motor Association Collision Facts and the New England Journal of Medicine:

1. Do not drink and drive. Why? Because 23 percent of drivers involved in fatal collisions had consumed alcohol prior to the crash. Males between 18 and 21 years old make up the group most likely to have been drinking prior to an accident.

2. Drive carefully on weekends and holidays. Why? The collisions fatality rate usually doubles on long weekends. In 1997, the highest number of fatal collisions happened in August, with Friday being the most collision-prone day of the week.

3. Use your seatbelt. Why? People who do not buckle up are more than twice as likely to be injured as those who wear a seat belt. The current three-point lap-shoulder restraints are thought to reduce the risk of death or serious injury by 45 percent.

4. Avoid common driving mistakes. Why? Running off the road, following too closely and left turns across the path of oncoming vehicles were the most common mistakes contributing to casualty collisions.

5. Be careful if you are young and restless. Why? Traffic collisions cause 7 out of 10 unintentional fatal injuries to people between 15 to 24 years of age. Injuries are the most common cause of death among people 1 to 34 years of age.

6. Be careful on all types of road conditions. Why? Because 60 percent of fatal collisions happen on dry roads. And 70 percent of fatal collisions occur on highways in rural areas.

7. Use children’s safety seat correctly. Why? About 50 percent of car seats are used incorrectly. Air bags can cause deaths of infants in rear-facing car seats. Car seats for children reduce the risk of death or serious injury by approximately 70 percent.

8. Use bicycle and motorcycle helmets. Why? Helmets decrease the risk of head and brain injury by 85 percent.

9. Cross streets at pedestrian crossings only. Why? Injuries to pedestrians are the second largest category of motor vehicle deaths. School aged children are at greatest risk.

10. Do not drive when tired or sleepy. Why? Because fatal car accidents increase by 7 percent in Canada on the Monday after the spring time change. When the Canadians move their clocks back an hour in the fall, collisions drop by 7 per cent. Even an hour of sleep can make a difference!

It was in 1899, U.S. reported the first death related to motor vehicle accident. Are we proud of our record in the last hundred years?

Enjoy the good weather. Be safe!

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