Jamaica Hospital Warns About Distracted Driving

A Leading Cause Of Trauma Deaths

“If You’re Distracted, We’re Impacted” is this year’s theme for National Trauma Awareness Month and to help spread the message about the seriousness of distractions, Jamaica Hospital’s Trauma Division recently set up a distracted driving community education display.

On May 23, Jamaica Hospital’s Trauma Team distributed literature to hospital employees and visitors to help educate them on the dangers of distracted driving and how to stay safe.

“There are many dangers while driving,” said Mark Dekki, community educator for trauma services at Jamaica Hospital. “Not only does a distracted driver jeopardize their own life, but the lives of those in the car with them, as well as the lives of other drivers who are sharing the road and the lives of pedestrians.”

Distracted driving is characterized as any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. These actions can include eating, applying makeup, playing loud music, talking to passengers, and texting while driving, which over the last few years has become a major distraction.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 16 percent of fatal crashes and 20 percent of injury crashes in 2009 involved reports of distracted driving. In general, distracted driving contributes to up to 8,000 crashes every single day.

Additionally, at any given moment during the daylight hours, over 800,000 vehicles are being driven by someone using a handheld cell phone. Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves.

“Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of death in Queens,” explained Dekki. “It is our greatest hope that the organization of this informational event gave people a better understanding of the dangers of being a distracted driver and was effective enough to encourage change in their behavior.”

As a Level 1 Trauma Center, Jamaica Hospital saw 717 trauma patients in its emergency room in 2012, of which 82 were pedestrians struck and 108 were motor vehicle traumas.

The National Trauma Institute reports that each year, trauma accounts for 42 million emergency department visits and two million hospital admissions across the nation. Furthermore, trauma injury accounts for 30 percent of all life years lost in U.S., more than cancer, heart disease, and HIV. In fact, the impact on life years lost is equal to the life years lost from cancer, heart disease and HIV combined.

To avoid becoming a trauma statistic, Dekki offered the following to drivers: “Staying safe on the road is simple: turn off all electronic devices, apply all make-up before you get in the car, and eat meals and snacks before you get behind the wheel.”

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