Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[Press release] Richer countries have safer roads

This brought back memories of a road accident in Liberia back in 1980. It was late at night in a rural area.  Three of us (all sober!) were returning home after a Christmas get-together.  The main highway (a dirt road, barely two lanes) was unlit, as all rural roads are, even if they are main highways.  The driver swerved to avoid an accident, an oncoming car was straddling the middle of the road (not uncommon).  Our Chevy truck rolled over at least twice down a steep embankment. I was nearest to the door on the passenger side. My leg went out the open window. The truck landed on its side, and my leg was pinned underneath the truck.

A bus stopped. Several passengers came down the embankment. By that time Ann (a fellow Peace Corps volunteer) who was in the middle, and the driver (a Malaysian ex-pat who was managing a nearby farm) had got out the truck.  They raised the truck, and I pulled my numb leg out out. Miraculously my leg was not broken. (Could it be the gravel absorbed the shock?)
I did have some nasty gashes on the inside of my right thigh, and it was bleeding some.  The window had only been partially rolled down.  So the glass had shattered and ripped some of my flesh.

Somehow I got up the embankment with help.  We went into the bus, which did a U-turn and took us to the hospital, about 10 miles away.  Found out later, this was the second time the bus had stopped to pick up an accident victim and transfer them to a hospital. No ambulances in the country that I know of.  [Just realized, we never gave the bus driver any money to cover his expenses, or properly thanked anyone, some of the passengers probably had two hours tacked on to their travel time.]

Anyways, I got stitched up (about 34 in the leg, another 8 or so around my right elbow). Thankfully no complications. Although when I do go hiking, I have to use a walking stick when going downhill.  Word traveled fast about the accident in the Peace Corps community. Several weeks later I got a letter from the Peace Corps nurse (at HQ- 120 miles away) to get down to her office.  Didn’t want to go, I was healing fine,  and it meant a 5 hour taxi ride over bumpy dirt roads, but went anyway where I got chewed out royally.  Well, I got X-rayed. Confirmed nothing was broken, and the other tests also confirmed what I knew – that I was OK.  The nice thing- Peace Corps paid for my travel and medical expenses when I went down to HQ.

From the 29 October 2013 Michigan News press release

ANN ARBOR—Wealthier nations, whose residents own a majority of the world’s vehicles, have the lowest roadway fatality rates, say University of Michigan researchers.

In a new study on road safety in 170 countries, Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle of the U-M Transportation Research Institute found that the average fatality rate per million vehicles is 313 in high-income countries, 2,165 in middle-income countries and 6,040 in low-income countries.

Further, the average percentage of pedestrian deaths out of all roadway fatalities is lower in high-income nations (21 percent) compared with middle-income (31 percent) and low-income (35 percent) countries.

Using data from the World Health Organization on countries with populations of at least 100,000, Sivak and Schoettle examined differences in road safety based on gross national income per person: high (more than $12,275), middle ($1,006 to $12,275) and low (less than $1,006).

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“The goal was to identify relevant commonalities that may assist in the creation of road-safety policies common to countries at a similar level of development,” Sivak said.

The researchers also found income-level effects for 31 aspects related to institutional framework, safer roads and mobility, safer vehicles, safer road users and post-crash care.

According to the results, low-income countries are less likely to have national road-safety strategies; standard vehicle regulations; laws on the installation of safety belts, airbags and electronic stability controls; laws on the use of safety belts, child restraints, motorcycle helmets and mobile phones; strict driver penalty systems; effective drunk driving enforcement measures; universal emergency access phone numbers; and policies to promote walking, cycling and public transport.

Interestingly, maximum speed limits on rural roads and near schools tend to be lower in low-income countries, but the effectiveness of speed-limit enforcement is higher in high-income countries.

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October 31, 2013 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Why is road safety in the U.S. not on par with Sweden, the U.K., and the Netherlands? Lessons to be learned

From the 6 February 2013 summary at Full Text Reports

Source: University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute

This study compared road safety and related factors in the U.S. with those in Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands, in order to identify actions most likely to produce casualty reductions in the U.S. The reviewed topics were basic country statistics, road fatalities and various fatality rates, national road-safety strategies, and selected road-safety issues. The main differences concerned structural and cultural factors (such as vehicle distance driven), and procedural factors (such as road-safety strategies and targets, alcohol-impaired driving, exceeding speed limits, and use of seat belts). The main recommendations for improving road safety in the U.S. are as follows: (1) lower states’ BAC limits to 0.5 g/l and introduce effective random breath testing, (2) reexamine the current speed-limit policies and improve speed enforcement, (3) implement primary seat-belt-wearing laws in each state that would cover both front and rear occupants, and reward vehicle manufacturers for installation of advanced seat-belt reminders, (4) reconsider road-safety target setting so that the focus is on reducing fatalities and not on reducing fatality rate per distance driven, and (5) consider new strategies to reduce vehicle distance driven.

 

February 8, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Safety | , , , | 1 Comment

Medical Marijuana Laws, Traffic Fatalities, and Alcohol Consumption

Medical Marijuana Laws, Traffic Fatalities, and Alcohol Consumption
by D. Mark Anderson, Daniel I. Rees
(November 2011)

Abstract:
To date, 16 states have passed medical marijuana laws, yet very little is known about their effects. Using state-level data, we examine the relationship between medical marijuana laws and a variety of outcomes. Legalization of medical marijuana is associated with increased use of marijuana among adults, but not among minors. In addition, legalization is associated with a nearly 9 percent decrease in traffic fatalities, most likely to due to its impact on alcohol consumption. Our estimates provide strong evidence that marijuana and alcohol are substitutes.
Text: See Discussion Paper No. 6112  

December 5, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Safety, Public Health | , , , | Leave a comment

   

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