April 19th, 2018

What’s Up Doc?: For 2018 resolve to drive safely and prevent collisions

By Medicine Hat News on December 26, 2017.

“Only I can change my life. No one can do it for me.” – Carol Burnett

Most people are good and responsible drivers. They care about their own safety and they care about others. But some drivers are serious threat to safety.

A recent survey done by the Alberta Motor Association and published in their magazine (AMA Insider – Winter 2017) identified the following five actions to be serious threat to safety while on the road:

1. Drivers texting or emailing

2. Drivers talking on the phone

3. People driving after drinking alcohol

4. Aggressive driving

5. Speeding on residential streets

It is estimated that traffic collisions would soon become the third major cause of death worldwide. The major victims of these traffic collisions are people between five and 44 years of age. That is tragic.

Let us briefly look at what Transport Canada —www.tc.gc.ca — has to say about road safety.

Although drivers aged between 15 to 34 represent only about 30 per cent of the driving population, they accounted for 40 per cent of the fatalities and 45 per cent of the serious injuries, indicating that younger drivers are at greater risk.

The annual social costs of the motor vehicle collisions in terms of loss of life, medical treatment, rehabilitation, lost productivity, and property damage are measured in tens of billions of dollars. We can certainly use that kind of money treating other health issues.

Here are few examples where we can do better:

1. Seat belts worn correctly can reduce the chances of death and disability. It is estimated about 300 lives could be saved every year if everyone wore seat belts.

2. Aggressive driving includes speeding, running red lights, tailgating, weaving in and out of traffic, and failing to yield right of way, among other behaviours should be avoided. Forty per cent of speeding drivers involved in fatal crashes were 16 to 24 years of age.

3. Young drivers, 16 to 24 years of age, continue to be at higher risk of being killed in motor vehicle collisions. One of the reasons being the use of cell phones or other similar devices while driving.

4. In 2008, coroners’ testing showed almost 40 per cent of fatally injured drivers had been drinking some amount of alcohol prior to the collision.

5. Drugs, other than alcohol, are also being found in about one-third of tested fatally injured drivers, similar to the prevalence of alcohol.

There are many other reasons why a driver can be distracted: using electronic devices, reading maps, eating, drinking, talking, or impaired by fatigue.

It is estimated about 20 per cent of fatal collisions involve driver fatigue. Everyone is subject to their body’s circadian rhythms such that they are less alert during certain times of the day, usually 2-4 a.m. and 2-4 p.m. Therefore, taking breaks from driving during these times could lower the risk of fatigue related collisions.

Let’s make a New Year’s resolution to drive safely and prevent death and disability.

Have a happy and healthy 2018.

Dr. Bharwani is a general surgeon, freelance writer, budding photographer and author of A Doctor’s Journey and Doctor B’s Eight Steps to Wellness. His latest book is available at Shoppers Drug Mart and Coles Book Store (Medicine Hat Mall), Nutter’s (Dunmore Road), http://www.nbharwani.com. You can discuss this column and other columns on his website: nbharwani.com and sign up for RSS feed, Twitter or get on the email list.

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