Thursday, July 20, 2006

Road Traffic Injuries

I have once suffered injury on the road. As a teenager I broke my finger when I trapped it between my brake lever on my moped and an army truck. It was one of those silly crashes that occur at traffic lights when the vehicle following assumes that when the vehicle in front starts to go when the lights turn green, it intends to continue going rather than suddenly stop because the driver has stalled or missed a gear. I never learned my lesson because I have had accidents like that since, but I have been lucky; I have never since injured myself or anyone else.

A leader in last week's BMJ tackles the topic of death and injury on the roads. People like me, professional classes in the first world are least likely to be injured. Those in lower socioeconomic classes and those in low and middle income countries. Although Britain has among the safest roads in the world, there is no room for complacency. Still one in six drivers in London do not wear seatbealts. Legislation forbidding using hand held cellphones while driving is largely ignored. Some well-publicised heavy fines are overdue. It is estimated that in France perhaps 20% of serious motor injuries are caused by drivers falling asleep at the wheel.

I have certainly fallen asleep while driving and now always take action when I feel sleepy. I do not try opening the window, or turning on the radio loudly. I immediately pull off the road, lower the backrest of my seat and take a power nap. Twenty minutes will get me home safely.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

When I was 18 and in college, some of my fraternity brothers and me had an all night prank of some sort. It fell on me to drive the car load of five of us back to college, at six in the morning.

I dozed off, and woke up just as I was about to plow into the median divider on the freeway. The rest of my friends in the car were sound asleep.

I do thank God that He saved me from falling asleep and killing or injuring all of us. It is probably the closest I've ever come to actually dying.

I have subsequently been sleepy, but I do also pull of the side of the road and try to get some rest.

It's difficult in the US because there are many people who are robbed or killed in rest areas trying to get some rest.