Motor Vehicle Injuries
Motor vehicle injuries are also called ‘road-traffic injuries’ or ‘road crashes’ and account for a vast proportion of fatal injuries. The estimated annual toll is 1.25 million out of a total of 5 million fatal injuries worldwide (World Health Organization’s Global status report on road safety 2015). In other words, more than 3400 people die everyday in road crashes, while about 30 000 are seriously injured. They are defined as a collision involving at least one vehicle in motion on a public or private road that results in at least one person being injured or killed (WHO, 2004).
- Approximately 1.35 million people die each year as a result of road traffic crashes.
- The2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has set an ambitious target of halving the global number of deaths and injuries from road traffic crashes by 2020.
- Road traffic crashes cost most countries 3% of their gross domestic product.
- More than half of all road traffic deaths are among vulnerable road users: pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists.
- 93% of the world’s fatalities on the roads occur in low- and middle-income countries, even though these countries have approximately 60% of the world’s vehicles.
- Road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death for children and young adults aged 5-29 years
Vehicle Accident Injuries
Motor vehicle accident injuries run the gamut from minor to fatal. Regardless of the type of injury, many auto accident victims find themselves unable to return to work and go about their daily lives.
Negligent drivers cause injured drivers and passengers to deal with hospital bills, rehabilitation costs and face lost wages.
Many motor vehicle accident victims are rear-ended. Neck injuries, which can occur in all types of auto accidents, are most common in accidents where a vehicle is rear-ended.
In those types of accidents, individuals are likely to suffer from severe whiplash and neck strain injuries. In some cases, they may experience more severe neck injuries such as cervical dislocation or damaged discs in the neck.
Whiplash and neck strain occur when the neck and head are unexpectedly quickly jerked back and forth during low or high speed motor vehicle accidents. When the neck is rapidly pulled back and forth, the muscles and ligaments in the neck are stretched beyond a normal range of motion. This can cause excruciating pain.
Accidents where glass shatters, chemicals spill and fires start are common causes of scarring and disfigurement. Oftentimes, victims experience lacerations and burns to the face and torso which can cause deep scarring.
Scars, and facial scars in particular, can be devastating to an individuals self-esteem and confidence. Individuals with extensive scarring report lack of comfort in work and in life with reduced quality of life issues. Additionally, scarring that damages the nerves or muscles may also impact motor control functions.
Scars in an auto accident may be caused by:
- Chemical spills
- Nerve damage
Unfortunately, treating scars may require special burn doctors and plastic surgery. The process of treating severe scarring can quickly become very expensive.
Broken bones and fractured bones are common in car accidents that are severe, such as those in which a multiple vehicle collision occurs or where a vehicle rolls over. Broken bones are especially dangerous because they can lead to a whole host of internal injuries that are difficult to treat.
Individuals with broken ribs, for example, may also have a punctured lung. In a collision where a broken bone occurs it is vital that medical professionals evaluate and treat all of the potentially related injuries as well.
Common broken bone injuries can include:
- Spinal injuries
- Skull fractures
- Hip fractures
- Broken pelvis
- Busted ribs
- Tibia and fibula fractures in the legs
- Broken and fractured wrists
Broken bones take a very long time to heal and may require extensive rehabilitation. After a car accident, individuals suffering from broken bones require emergency care. The most serious broken bone injuries may also require multiple surgeries and the use of metal plates and screws to hold the bones together.
Amputations & Lost Limbs
Amputation injuries after a car accident are not as common as other motor vehicle accident injuries. When these types of injuries do occur, however, the victim is faced with a lifelong and irreversible disability. This is often a disability that will forever alter how a person lives and negatively impacts every aspect of their lives.
Amputations caused by car accidents are called traumatic amputations because they are performed in the aftermath of a traumatic accident.
Car accident victims healing from an amputation must learn to live life with a prosthetic limb. An experienced amputation personal injury attorney can help you get the financial benefits you and your family deserve.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
While recent developments in the NFL have brought greater attention to the long-term impact of concussions and head injuries, car accident victims are also very susceptible to traumatic brain injuries.
Unfortunately, a traumatic brain injury after a car accident may not show up right away. Symptoms of a traumatic brain injury include,
- Difficulty thinking
- Difficulty retaining new information
- Feeling tired all the time
- Headaches or migraines
- Emotional outbursts
- Mood swings
A healthy back is central to almost everything we need to do. Back injuries and associated back pains can negatively impact every facet of our lives from work and school to sleeping and driving.
In most motor vehicle accidents, the lower back is the most common back injury. Car accident victims often suffer from sprained backs, herniated discs and broken or fractured vertebrae..
Drivers make poor decisions on Americas roadways and then cause motor vehicle accidents that then have catastrophic injuries. When they make such poor driving decisions, they must be held accountable for their negligent actions.
Leading Causes of Motor Vehicle Accidents
Since 1896, when the first motor vehicle accident was recorded in London, more than 25 million people have died worldwide. Despite enormous strides in automotive safety technology, the number of auto accident injuries and fatalities continues to rise across the world.
This is in part due to human error. As the following list of leading motor vehicle accident causes demonstrates, human behavior is largely responsible for the continuing worldwide increase of motor vehicle accidents.
The five leading causes of motor vehicle accidents include:
- Distracted drivers
- Sleepy drivers
- Drunk drivers
- Reckless speeding drivers
- Aggressive drivers
Many of the leading causes of motor vehicle accidents are preventable. Drivers who use their smart devices while driving are making a conscious decision to endanger themselves and everyone else on the roads. Similarly, drivers who speed, tailgate, and generally drive recklessly also place everyone at risk.
Who is at risk?
More than 90% of road traffic deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. Road traffic injury death rates are highest in the African region. Even within high-income countries, people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds are more likely to be involved in road traffic crashes.
Road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death for children and young adults aged 5-29 years.
From a young age, males are more likely to be involved in road traffic crashes than females. About three quarters (73%) of all road traffic deaths occur among young males under the age of 25 years who are almost 3 times as likely to be killed in a road traffic crash as young females.
The Safe System approach: accommodating human error
The Safe System approach to road safety aims to ensure a safe transport system for all road users. Such an approach takes into account people’s vulnerability to serious injuries in road traffic crashes and recognizes that the system should be designed to be forgiving of human error. The cornerstones of this approach are safe roads and roadsides, safe speeds, safe vehicles, and safe road users, all of which must be addressed in order to eliminate fatal crashes and reduce serious injuries.
- An increase in average speed is directly related both to the likelihood of a crash occurring and to the severity of the consequences of the crash. For example, every 1% increase in mean speed produces a 4% increase in the fatal crash risk and a 3% increase
- in the serious crash risk. The death risk for pedestrians hit by car fronts rises rapidly (4.5 times from 50 km/h to 65 km/h)..
- In car-to-car side impacts the fatality risk for car occupants is 85% at 65 km/h.
Driving under the influence of alcohol and other psychoactive substances
- Driving under the influence of alcohol and any psychoactive substance or drug increases the risk of a crash that results in death or serious injuries.
- In the case of drink-driving, the risk of a road traffic crash starts at low levels of blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and increases significantly when the driver’s BAC is ≥ 0.04 g/dl.
- In the case of drug-driving, the risk of incurring a road traffic crash is increased to differing degrees depending on the psychoactive drug used. For example, the risk of a fatal crash occurring among those who have used amphetamines is about 5 times the risk of someone who hasn’t.
Nonuse of motorcycle helmets, seat-belts, and child restraints
- Correct helmet use can lead to a 42% reduction in the risk of fatal injuries and a 69% reduction in the risk of head injuries.
- Wearing a seat-belt reduces the risk of death among drivers and front seat occupants by 45 – 50%, and the risk of death and serious injuries among rear seat occupants by 25%.
- The use of child restraints can lead to a 60% reduction in deaths.
There are many types of distractions that can lead to impaired driving. The distraction caused by mobile phones is a growing concern for road safety.
- Drivers using mobile phones are approximately 4 times more likely to be involved in a crash than drivers not using a mobile phone. Using a phone while driving slows reaction times (notably braking reaction time, but also reaction to traffic signals), and makes it difficult to keep in the correct lane, and to keep the correct following distances.
- Hands-free phones are not much safer than hand-held phone sets, and texting considerably increases the risk of a crash.
Unsafe road infrastructure
The design of roads can have a considerable impact on their safety. Ideally, roads should be designed keeping in mind the safety of all road users. This would mean making sure that there are adequate facilities for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists. Measures such as footpaths, cycling lanes, safe crossing points, and other traffic calming measures can be critical to reducing the risk of injury among these road users.
Safe vehicles play a critical role in averting crashes and reducing the likelihood of serious injury. There are a number of UN regulations on vehicle safety that, if applied to countries’ manufacturing and production standards, would potentially save many lives. These include requiring vehicle manufacturers to meet front and side impact regulations, to include electronic stability control (to prevent over-steering) and to ensure airbags and seat-belts are fitted in all vehicles. Without these basic standards the risk of traffic injuries – both to those in the vehicle and those out of it – is considerably increased.
Inadequate post-crash care
Delays in detecting and providing care for those involved in a road traffic crash increase the severity of injuries. Care of injuries after a crash has occurred is extremely time-sensitive: delays of minutes can make the difference between life and death. Improving post-crash care requires ensuring access to timely prehospital care, and improving the quality of both pre hospital and hospital care, such as through specialist training programmes.
Inadequate law enforcement of traffic laws
If traffic laws on drink-driving, seat-belt wearing, speed limits, helmets, and child restraints are not enforced, they cannot bring about the expected reduction in road traffic fatalities and injuries related to specific behaviours. Thus, if traffic laws are not enforced or are perceived as not being enforced it is likely they will not be complied with and therefore will have very little chance of influencing behaviour.
Effective enforcement includes establishing, regularly updating, and enforcing laws at the national, municipal, and local levels that address the above mentioned risk factors. It includes also the definition of appropriate penalties.
What can be done to address road traffic injuries
- Road traffic injuries can be prevented. Governments need to take action to address road safety in a holistic manner. This requires involvement from multiple sectors such as transport, police, health, education, and actions that address the safety of roads, vehicles, and road users.
- Effective interventions include designing safer infrastructure and incorporating road safety features into land-use and transport planning, improving the safety features of vehicles, improving post-crash care for victims of road crashes, setting and enforcing laws relating to key risks, and raising public awareness.
Providing technical support to countries
- WHO works across the spectrum in countries, in a multisectoral manner and in partnership with national and international stakeholders from a variety of sectors. Its objective is to support Member States in road safety policy planning, implementation and evaluation.
- In addition, WHO collaborates with partners to provide technical support to countries. For example, WHO is currently collaborating with the Bloomberg Initiative for Global Road Safety (BIGRS) 2015-2019 to reduce fatalities and injuries from road traffic crashes in targeted low- and middle-income countries and cities.
- In 2017, WHO released Save LIVES a road safety technical packagewhich synthesizes evidence-based measures that can significantly reduce road traffic fatalities and injuries. Save LIVES: a road safety technical package focuses on Speed management, Leadership, Infrastructure design and improvement, Vehicle safety standards, Enforcement of traffic laws and post-crash Survival.
- The package prioritizes 6 strategies and 22 interventions addressing the risk factors highlighted above, and provides guidance to Member States on their implementation to save lives and meet the road safety target of halving the global number of deaths and injuries from road traffic crashes by 2020.
Coordinating the Decade of Action for Road Safety
WHO is the lead agency – in collaboration with the United Nations regional commissions – for road safety within the UN system. WHO chairs the United Nations Road Safety Collaboration and serves as the secretariat for the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011– 2020. Proclaimed through a UN General Assembly resolution in 2010, the Decade of Action was launched in May 2011 in over 110 countries, with the aim of saving millions of lives by implementing the Global Plan for the Decade of Acton.
WHO also plays a key role in guiding global efforts by continuing to advocate for road safety at the highest political levels; compiling and disseminating good practices in prevention, data collection and trauma care; sharing information with the public on risks and how to reduce these risks; and drawing attention to the need for increased funding.
Monitoring progress through global status reports
WHO’s Global status report on road safety 2018 presents information on road safety from 175 countries. This report is the fourth in a series and provides an overview of the road safety situation globally. The global status reports are the official tool for monitoring the Decade of Action.