How distracted is your driving? Rapides Regional Trauma Center, along with the American Trauma Society and the Society of Trauma Nurses, wants you to know: “If you’re distracted, we’re impacted.”
“The issue of distracted driving and other activities where individuals are distracted is a critical issue for public safety and demands action,” said Trooper First Class John Dauzat, State Police Troop E. “Last year, distracted driving was the theme during National Trauma Awareness Month; and though we did our part in spreading the word, fatalities and severe injuries caused by distracted driver crashes continue to increase.”
In 2012, Troop E reported 61 fatal crashes with 66 fatalities. In the same time frame, Rapides Regional Trauma Center saw 116 patients involved in major motor vehicle collisions resulting in 19 fatalities, 97 patients with severe injuries and an injury severity score greater than 15.
Distracted passengers are also an issue. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, “Passengers are one of the most frequently reported causes of distraction.” So while riding in a vehicle with someone else remember to keep your voice down and limit activities in the car. Passengers can also help by:
• Reading a map or giving directions
Teens are already banned from using a cell phone while driving–and there’s a new state law banning the use social media while driving. Distracted driving, however, can take many forms. “The main reasons leading to distracted driving include the use of a cell phone, GPS or radio, a driver who’s attention is drifting away from the road, conversations with other passengers, eating, reading, taking notes or applying makeup,” said Donna Lemoine, RN, BSN, director of Trauma Services at Rapides Regional Medical Center.
• Answering cell phone or text messages
• Controlling temperature and ventilation
• Adjusting the stereo volume or channel
• Paying attention to landmarks and signs
• Managing the needs of other passengers – such as infants and children
“Though there’s not a law against it, every parent knows that young children can be a distraction for a parent who is trying to focus on the cars around them while refereeing a spirited conversation between siblings in the backseat–or requests for tissues, a favorite radio channel or a stop at the local drive-thru,” Lemoine said. “We can’t control some of those distractions. But it’s in everyone’s best interest to focus on the road as much as possible–and limit the distractions you can control. Remember: If you’re distracted, we’re impacted.”