Motor vehicle accidents are one of the leading causes of death in the United States today. Each year, nearly 2.5 million Americans are treated in hospital emergency departments as a result of an MVA. While the numbers are staggering, Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Trauma Team is dedicated to decreasing the number of these preventable injuries through education, research and community outreach.
Jamaica Hospital operates a Level 1 Trauma Center, the highest designation to treat critically injured patients. Last year, Jamaica Hospital’s ERtreated more than 500 patients injured as a result of motor vehicle accidents and the staffwants to offer the following tip to our community on how to avoid serious injury:
Stay focused on the road and avoid becoming a distracted driver.
What is a distracted driver? A distracted driver is a driver engaged in another activity that takes his or her attention away from the primary task of driving. These activities include: electronic devise use, eating or drinking, applying makeup, talking to passengers or adjusting the radio.
Here are some distracted driver facts and figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:
• 16 percent of fatal crashes involve reports of distracted driving
• 20 percent of injury crashes involve reports of distracted driving.
In 2011, 3,331 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver, compared to 3,267 in 2010.
• 387,000 people in 2011 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver, compared to 416,000 injured in 2010 (distraction.gov).
• 16 percent of all distracted driving crashes involve drivers under the age of 20.
Distractions can impair a driver in three ways:
• visually— forcing the driver to take his or her eyes off the road;
• manually — forcing the driver to take his or her hands off of the steering wheel; and
• cognitively — forcing the driver to take his or her mind off of driving while they are doing something else.
While there are many forms of distractions for drivers, the type that has seen the largest increase in occurrences is texting while driving.Texting while driving is especially dangerous because it impairs the driver’s visual, manual and cognitive abilities, and studies indicate that text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted. In a recent study by the CDC, 9 percent of U.S. drivers reported texting or emailing regularly or fairly often while driving.
Jamaica Hospital’s Trauma Team is well aware of the growing trend involving injuries and fatalities associated with distracted drivers and wants to offer the following warnings:
Avoid eating or drinking while driving.
Do not read while driving.
Avoid putting on makeup, shaving or fixing your hair while driving.
Turn off all cell phones and electronic devices while driving.