Question of the Week

May 19, 2003

Memorial Day weekend is almost here. The police will be out in force in the attempt to catch speeders, keep drunk drivers off the road, and ticket those who are not wearing their seat belts. Why put so many resources into watching the roads?

"Of the five million people killed due to injuries in 2000, approximately 1.2 million people died of road traffic incidents...In addition to the considerable number of deaths, millions more are wounded or suffer other non-fatal health consequences due to injuries."

What does this mean for teens?

"Did you know that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 15- to 20-year-olds? Or maybe you've heard that two out of three teenagers who die in car accidents are passengers in vehicles driven by other teens. The fact is, teenage automobile accidents are a serious problem."

"In 2001, 5,341 teens were killed in passenger vehicles involved in motor vehicle crashes. Two thirds of those killed were not buckled up. In 2001, 3,608 drivers 15 to 20 years old were killed in motor vehicle crashes, and an additional 337,000 were injured."

What can we do about it?

"Important lessons have been learned about injuries during the past decades. Among them is that injuries are not inevitable, but are preventable. Many strategies have already been shown to be effective. Using seat belts in cars and helmets when riding motor cycles, traffic calming to protect pedestrians, enforcing policies against drunk driving or speeding..."

"Safety belts saved more than 12,000 American lives in 2001. Yet, during that same year, nearly two-thirds (60 percent) of passenger vehicle occupants killed in traffic crashes were unrestrained. Research has shown that lap/shoulder belts, when used properly, reduce the risk of fatal injury to front-seat passenger car occupants by 45 percent and the risk of moderate to critical injury by 50 percent."

But what if I don't drive?

"Whenever you ride in a car, wear your seat belt every time. No matter how short the trip is - even if it's only around the corner - you still need to buckle up. This is so important because if the car you're riding in gets into an accident, the seat belt restrains you.... Even if the car is moving slowly, you can still get thrown around if you're not wearing your seat belt."
Kids Health

Questions of the Week:
Why is law enforcement putting so many resources into watching the roads? Why (and how) does this affect kids and teens who may or may not be driving? What can they do to help make the roads safer for themselves and others? These web sites have suggestions; police departments have ideas of what is best; what can your students add that others might be missing? The sites referenced above have information and suggestions. For more information, try:

Please email me with any ideas or suggestions.
Note: Due to increasing amounts of SPAM sent to this account, please include "QOW" in the subject line when sending me email.

I look forward to reading what you have to say.

[email protected]
Health Community Coordinator
Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum

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