Injury Prevention: Motor Vehicle Safety
Motor vehicle crashes are one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. Over 180,000 deaths occur from injury each year — 1 person every 3 minutes. More than 2.3 million adult drivers and passengers were treated in emergency departments as the result of being injured in motor vehicle crashes in 2009. The economic impact is also notable: the lifetime costs of crash-related deaths and injuries among drivers and passengers were $70 billion in 2005. Many of these injuries can be prevented and their consequences reduced. We know prevention works. Below are just a few facts and tips on how you and your loved ones can stay safe on the road.
Use a seat belt on every trip, no matter how short. This sets a good example.
- People not wearing a seat belt are 30 times more likely to be ejected from a vehicle during a crash.
- The use of seat belts and child safety seats saved nearly 13,000 lives in 2010.
- Seat belts reduce serious crash-related injuries and deaths by about 50%.
- Air bags provide added protection but are not a substitute for seat belts. Air bags plus seat belts provide the greatest protection for adults.
Wear your seat belt properly:
- Adjust the shoulder harness to fit snugly across your shoulder and chest with minimal, if any, slack.
- Adjust the lap belt to fit snugly and low across your hips after fastening.
Make sure children are properly buckled up in a seat belt, booster seat, or car seat, whichever is appropriate for their age, height and weight.
- Child safety seats reduce the risk of death in passenger cars by 71% for infants, and by 54% for toddlers, ages 1 to 4 years.
- Place children in the middle of the back seat when possible, because it is the safest area in the vehicle.
As a parent, know your state’s Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) laws, that way you can help enforce the laws and, in effect, help keep your teen driver safe.
- GDL systems are designed to delay full licensure while allowing teens to get their initial driving experience under low-risk conditions.
- Research suggests that the most comprehensive GDL programs are associated with reductions of 38% and 40% in fatal and injury crashes, respectively, among 16-year-old drivers.
Keep an open dialogue with your teen and discuss your rules. Use a Parent-Teen Driving Contract to outline both of your expectations and set consequences if they are not followed.
- Research has shown that when parents establish and enforce the “rules of the road”, new drivers report lower rates of risky driving, traffic violations, and crashes.
- Exercise regularly to increase strength and flexibility.
- Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review medicines (both prescription and over-the counter) to reduce side effects and interactions.
- Have your eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year.
- Wear glasses and corrective lenses as required.
- Drive during daylight and in good weather.
- Plan the safest route before you drive. Look for:
- Well-lit streets
- Intersections with left turn arrows
- Easy parking
- Leave a large following distance behind the car in front of you.
- Consider potential alternatives to driving, such as riding with a friend or using public transit.
- Turn off your cell phone.
- Put your phone in the trunk of your car.
- Never text and drive.
- NCIPC: Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars
- CDC. Vital Signs: Nonfatal, motor vehicle-occupant injuries (2009) and seat belt use (2008) among adults—United States. MMWR 2011; 59.
- Naumann RB, Dellinger AM, Zaloshnja E, Lawrence BA, Miller TR. Incidence and total lifetime costs of motor vehicle-related fatal and nonfatal injury by road user type, United States, 2005. Traffic Inj Prev 2010;11:353-60.
- CDC. Seat Belt Policy Impact Brief. Available from: http://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/seatbeltbrief/index.html.
- Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety/Highway Loss Data Institute. Fatality Facts 2010: Alcohol. [accessed 2012 June 6]. Available from: http://www.iihs.org/research/topics/pdf/iihs_ff_alcohol_2010.pdf
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Final regulatory impact analysis amendment to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 208. Passenger car front seat occupant protection. Washington, DC: US Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; 1984. Publication no. DOT-HS-806-572. Available at http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/pubs/806572.pdf. Accessed December 12, 2012.
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Third report to Congress: effectiveness of occupant protection systems and their use. Washington, DC: US Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; 1996. Available at http://www.nhtsa.gov/Laws+&+Regulations/Air+Bags/Third+Report+to+Congress+Effectiveness+of+Occupant+Protection+Systems+and+Their+Use. Accessed December 12, 2012.
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Proper Seat Belt Use. Available from: http://www.nhtsa.gov/staticfiles/nti/teen-drivers/pdf/seatbeltuse.pdf.
- Department of Transportation (US), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Traffic Safety Facts 2008: Children. Washington (DC): NHTSA; 2009.
- Committee on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention. Child passenger safety. Pediatrics. 2011;127(4):788-93.
- Baker SP, Chen L, Li G. Nationwide review of graduated driver licensing. Washington (DC): AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety; 2007. http://www.aaafoundation.org/pdf/NationwideReviewOfGDL.pdf
- CDC. Parents Are The Key. Available from: http://www.cdc.gov/ParentsAreTheKey/agreement/index.html