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Motor vehicle injury prevention.
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Position papers from The Third National Injury Control Conference: Setting the national agenda for injury control in the 1990s, April 22-25, 1991, Denver, Colorado. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Environmental Health and Injury Control, 1992 Apr; :73-157
Many injuries associated with motor vehicle crashes are preventable. In 1985, motor vehicle crashes cost our Nation more than $75 billion. About 65% of this amount was the result of only 15% percent of the crashes - those that caused death or injury (1). By 1991, this sum had increased considerably because of increases in the number of crash injuries and fatalities, increases in the cost of medical treatment and vehicle repair, and a rise in general price levels. But it is not the impact on our economy that is the force behind our desire to reduce the mortality and morbidity associated with highway crashes. Rather, it is the human tragedy that these crashes represent - the 45,000 persons killed on our roads each year; the fact that more than 60% of these victims are not yet 35 years of age; and the fact that almost every day, throughout the United States, 125 families meet at grave sites to bury a loved one killed in a motor vehicle crash. In addition, millions are injured in crashes. Especially tragic is the fact that some survivors of motor vehicle crashes are seriously disabled. Crashes are the leading cause of traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury. The magnitude of injury's impact on our society has made the control of crash injuries one of the goals of Healthy People 2000. The goal is to reduce crash fatalities from 19.1 per 100,000 people in 1987 to 17.0 per 100,000 people by the year 2000 (2). Many sectors of our society will have to cooperate to achieve this 11 % reduction in crash mortality, and many of the recommendations of this panel must be implemented. Unfortunately, even if this decreased crash fatality rate envisioned in the Year 2000 Objectives is achieved, there will be no meaningful reduction in the actual numbers of persons killed and injured in motor vehicle crashes. In terms of absolute numbers, projected increases in both population and travel will offset the efforts of the health and safety community. Motor vehicle crashes will remain the principal means by which young Americans are permanently disabled and by which they die. If we are to reduce materially the enormous toll that crashes impose every year, "business as usual" will not be sufficient. The multidisciplinary attack on injury that was the vision of Injury in America (3) must be employed. Investment in the prevention of injury and in the care and rehabilitation of injured persons must increase appreciably, so that it is commensurate with the magnitude of the problem. Research must be directed toward solving this problem, which will require federal, state, and private resources. Furthermore, collaboration between former adversaries must become the rule. But resources and collaboration will not be enough. We must also convince the public that motor vehicle injuries are not "accidents" and that the application of scientific principles to the prevention of injury has a real likelihood of succeeding in reducing crash-related fatalities and injuries. The report of this panel documents the record of success that health and safety professionals have achieved in this field. But more importantly, the report describes the steps that we must take to do more than merely maintain the status quo. The panel's recommendations are designed to be illustrative, rather than exhaustive, but their implementation can launch an era of major reductions in the crash fatality and injury rates on our roads.
Injuries; Injury-prevention; Traumatic-injuries; Accidents; Accident-prevention; Motor-vehicles; Substance-abuse; Age-factors; Surveillance-programs
Book or book chapter
Position papers from The Third National Injury Control Conference: Setting the national agenda for injury control in the 1990s, April 22-25, 1991, Denver, Colorado
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Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division