Make a move against motor vehicle injuries

Published 2:30 pm Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Making sure children are buckled up, being a designated driver and avoiding distractions like texting or talking on the phone while driving are among the ways to reduce injuries and fatalities on Southwest Georgia’s roads and highways, says the region’s top public health official.

“During April, our 14-county, 6,000-square-mile health district is raising awareness of injury prevention through our month-long campaign ‘Safety is no accident: Live injury-free,’” said Southwest Health District Health Director Jacqueline Grant.

“Our message this week is: Injury Prevention Starts on the Move,” she said. “More than 2.3 million adult drivers and passengers were treated in emergency departments from motor vehicle crashes in 2009, and motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death of U.S. teens. It doesn’t have to be that way.”

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For example, car safety seats reduce the risk of death in cars by 71 percent for infants and by 54 percent for toddlers, Grant said.

“People don’t realize that by carrying their babies in their laps, they are endangering them,” she said. “If the vehicle stops suddenly, or a crash occurs, no matter how tightly you hold onto your child, the laws of nature will take over and unrestrained children become flying projectiles traveling at high speeds.”

Adults should also protect themselves from potential motor vehicle-related injuries.

“Using seat belts cuts the number of serious injuries and deaths from car crashes in half, according to data from the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” Grant said. “We are at risk every time we are on the move. But we can take steps to protect ourselves and share our roads safely.” she said.

Here are a few examples:

• Make sure children are buckled up in a car seat, booster seat or seat belt;

• Wear a seat belt on every trip, no matter how short;

• Be a designated driver … don’t drink and drive, let others drink and drive or get into a vehicle with someone who has been drinking;

• Avoid texting, using the phone, grooming or eating while driving;

• Wear a helmet and reflective gear when on a bike, skateboard, scooter or motorcycle;

• Discuss your rules of the road and ask your teen to pledge to avoid speeding, texting and having multiple passengers while driving.

“There’s much more you can do to prevent injuries beyond these actions. Raise awareness of safety and injury prevention within your community during April and throughout the year,” Grant said. “Working together, we can make Southwest Georgia a safer and healthier place to live.”