Monday, May 11, 2009

“Cars, not germs, are the bigger threat"

In the May 9, 2009 issue of the Washington Post newspaper I was immediately drawn to the following letter to the editor from Jared B. Goldberg from Arlington, Virginia. His letter read:

We are in the midst of an epidemic, although it is not the one that is gathering countless hours of news coverage. It does not involve influenza or any other transmissible disease. Rather, it is the epidemic of motor vehicle crashes.

As an emergency physician, I see many people coming to the emergency room with concerns about "swine flu." However, that number pales in comparison to the number of people that I treat who have been injured in vehicle crashes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been 1,639 confirmed cases of H1N1 influenza in this country, with two reported deaths. In 2007, 41,059 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes and almost 2.5 million were injured. This is an average of 110 fatalities and 6,800 injuries daily. Virginia has already reported 219 motor vehicle deaths this year.

With all the emphasis on containing the spread of the flu [news story, May 6], it is odd that people are apathetic about containing the toll of vehicle crashes. Last year the Virginia General Assembly bowed to constituent pressure and repealed heavy fines designed to discourage dangerous driving [Metro, March 28, 2008].

Perhaps if we start referring to "accidents" as "swine collisions," motor vehicle crashes will finally gain the attention they deserve.

Well stated Dr. Goldberg. Thanks for adding your voice to our efforts to change the culture of complacency towards car crashes and to bring about a more positive traffic safety culture in this country.


nancy said...

I agree with Dr. Goldberg, that we have an epidemic of car crashes, especially those involving teen drivers. I decided to take action after 2 boys in my neighborhood were killed in a horrific crash. They were not drunk or on drugs, just showing off at over 100mph. I have 2 teen drivers and I am concerned for their safety, so I created a company called WeSee4u. Parents buy bumper stickers that ask,"How's My Teen Driving", and they place them on their kid's cars. Each bumper sticker has a unique pin # so that a caller can identify the car and explain the situation. The parents then receive an anonymous email that tells them what happened. There is absolutely no police involvement.
Many schools are using this program to help save the lives of teens and others on the roads. If anyone is interested, please visit for more information. It's great to see that so many people are concerned about keeping our teens safe on the road.

Al said...

Some years ago I wrote a letter to the Centers for Disease Control asking why they don't report on the cases of motor vehicle crashes. Their response was that they only deal in health issues, not accidents. I wrote back and asked the following: If motor vehicle crashes aren't health issues then why do they take the victims to a hospital? I got no response.

If anything is going to change, I think we have to start at the top. Our leaders need to realize there is an epidemic taking place on our roads and it is transmitted by drivers not germs.

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