Many of us work hard to keep healthy. We exercise, watch our diets, take medications to lower our cholesterol, and watch our blood pressure to help prevent heart attacks. Even though heart attacks can be treated, we know that our lives and health will in many cases depend upon preventing the heart attack in the first place.
Yet somehow we tend to look at trauma risks differently than medical risks. Today is the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims. Road traffic accidents are the leading cause of death in children and young adults from age 5 to 29 years. And, as with so many things in mission medicine, the risk of dying in a road traffic accident is three times higher in low-income than in high-income countries. Pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers or riders of 2- and 3-wheeled vehicles account for half of these deaths.1 The theme of this years Day of Remembrance focuses on safer vehicles2, but we must remember that these vulnerable users of roadways remain at great risk. So many of those who have their lives or their health taken away from them on the roadways are young people.3
While pre-hospital care and hospital trauma services are understandably more advanced in rich countries than in poor countries, the best way to “treat” road traffic accidents anywhere in the world is to prevent them. From mountain roads overseas to freeways at home, the advice given us rings true and is the same. We are all called to please put the cell phone down, pay attention to our driving, not drive if we are angry/upset, save the glass of wine for when we get home, put that motorcycle helmet on, put our children in appropriate car seats, slow down, drive friendly, and put our seat belt/shoulder harnesses on.
- United Nations
World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims
- World Day of Remembrance 2019
- IOGT International
Tim Cavanagh, MD