Tips for walking, biking, driving and skating.
Every time you drive a car, ride your bike or walk outside, you’re exposed to traffic. It’s part of our daily lives. It’s no surprise that motor vehicle accidents are one of the leading causes of death in the United States, according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) in Atlanta. In 2009, motor vehicle accidents resulted in 2.3 million adult visits to emergency rooms for the treatment of injuries.
Pulse spoke with Franklin Pratt, MD, medical director of the Torrance Memorial Lundquist Emergency Department, regarding traffic safety—specifically, what you can do to decrease your chances of becoming a statistic. He states that traffic-related injuries can generally be linked to three categories of behavior: courtesy, attentiveness and use of safety equipment.
Dr. Pratt describes the lack of courteousness as a causative factor in many accidents. He advises that everyone “practice courtesy in the broadest sense, such as don’t run yellow and red lights, slow down, use directional signals, turn from the appropriate lane so as not to cut others off, don’t drive while impaired by drugs or alcohol and don’t speed.”
Inattentiveness or distracted driving is another cause of traffic-related injuries. Don’t walk, skateboard, bike or drive while listening to your iPod, texting, talking on your cell phone or using other gadgets.
“When you’re driving, you’re moving at speeds that can kill,” adds Dr. Pratt. Concentrate while operating your skateboard, bike, motorcycle or car.
Pedestrians also need to stay focused and obey traffic rules like crossing in crosswalks, adhering to crossing lights and not darting out unexpectedly into oncoming traffic.
Use safety equipment relevant to what you’re doing. If you’re in a car, wear your seatbelt. “Seat belts save lives,” says Dr. Pratt.
If you have an infant or child, use the appropriate size safety seat for their age and size. Make sure it’s belted in your vehicle properly as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
If you’re riding a skateboard, wear a helmet, elbow and knee pads. If you’re on a bike, wear a helmet and make sure it has operable lights to use for any night-time riding. If you’re driving a motorcycle, wear a helmet, appropriate safety eyewear and riding gloves and protective clothing that covers the skin and includes reflectors.
Dr. Pratt states, “If you’re in an accident while riding a bike or motorcycle, you will lose”—highlighting the importance of safety precautions especially when driving these types of vehicles. Younger drivers or riders have an increased risk of accidents, as they generally drive at higher speeds and lack the experience and driving skills that time provides.
Additionally, Dr. Pratt says, “Injury prevention is critically important, because treatment and rehabilitation from an accident is a very long, complex and painful process that also impacts one’s future.” A major injury affects one’s life at various levels, from prohibiting participation in leisure activities to preventing a person from working and earning a living—either temporarily or for the rest of his or her life. Practicing these tips can increase your odds of remaining safe in traffic.