Entries in Car Crashes (4)


Fatal Car Crashes More Likely on Thanksgiving

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Thanksgiving was the deadliest holiday in 2010, according to the most recent data available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  

That year, 431 people died on the roads nationwide, compared with 259 on Christmas, 403 on Labor Day and 392 on Fourth of July.

"Whenever you increase the number of people traveling, and the number of cars, your likelihood and chance of having an accident are going to increase just by statistics," said Dr. Rahul Sharma, who heads NYU Langone Medical Center's Emergency Department and has worked his fair share of holidays in the ER.

An estimated 90 percent of Thanksgiving travelers will drive to their destinations this Thursday, according to the AAA auto club.  That's 39.1 million people on the roads.

Sharma said car accident injuries can vary depending on what time the accident happens.  During the day, when roads are gridlocked, collisions happen at lower speeds and result in more minor injuries, including bruises and neck injuries.

"If there were to be a silver lining, that would be it," said Jake Nelson, AAA's Director of Traffic Safety Advocacy and Research.  "I'm not sure anyone would pray for congestion though."

Late at night, however, ER doctors start seeing more serious injuries as travelers are able to go faster on the emptying roads, Sharma said.  The holiday alcohol and distracting family drama can also contribute to slower reaction times.

And as it gets later, more impaired drivers get behind the wheel, said Dr. Curt Dill, who also works in the NYU emergency room.  He said that 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. are normally the worst hours, but by 2 a.m. on Thanksgiving, drivers might be traveling so fast that they look like they're "drag racing," causing cars to lose control and even flip over.

Dill said injuries depend on whether drivers are wearing their seat belts and how fast they're speeding.

"If you're wearing a seat belt and driving a modern vehicle with restraints on, then lots of collisions are survivable," he said.  "But if you're not wearing your seat belt, you're crashing into a several-ton piece of metal."

That means, broken bones, internal bleeding, head injuries and even death.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Fatal Car Crashes Rise on Tax Day, Study Finds

Hemera/Thinkstock(TORONTO) -- If you're waiting until the last possible day to file your taxes, you might want to walk to the post office instead of driving there.  But even that won't guarantee you'll be safe.

Research from a University of Toronto professor published Tuesday by the Journal of the American Medical Association says that people tend to get into more fatal accidents on April 15 than the same weekday one week earlier or week later.

In the U.S., it's a 13 percent spike in deadly crashes.

Dr. Donald A. Redelmeier studied data over a 30-year period to reach the conclusion that more drivers wind up dead on the day taxes are due than those other days.

The study reveals that close to 7,000 people wound up dying in crashes on the 30 tax days, as opposed to 6,400 on each of the non-tax days.  Typically, the victim is a young man motoring around in a rural area.

It wasn't difficult to figure out why this happens.

According to Redelmeier, "Our main finding is that stressful deadlines can contribute to driving errors that can contribute to fatal crashes.  We use tax day to learn something about stress that may be relevant 365 days a year."

Even passengers and pedestrians aren't immune from the curse of April 15, says Redelmeier, although the reasons aren't as clear.  He can only guess that it has to do with being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

This year, April 15 falls on Sunday so you're safe then.  Not so much on Tuesday, April 17, this year's deadline.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Girlfriend’s Final Texts a Warning on Distracted Driving

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(QUEBEC, Canada) -- A young Canadian man is hoping the heart-wrenching final text message conversation he had with his girlfriend before she died can serve as a reminder of the dangers of distracted driving.

Mathieu Fortin has posted the final text messages he and his girlfriend, Emy Brochu, 20, sent each other while she was driving, right before the car she was in crashed Jan. 18, killing her. On a memorial Facebook page he titled “Share this if it touches you! I love you Emy xoxo,” Fortin posted the texts, along with pleas that his friends think twice before using a cellphone while behind the wheel.

The pair were texting each other while she drove to class, he wrote on the Facebook page. Her final message to him read, translated from French, “I love you too and I’ll try to make you happy.”

“I have a meeting at 12:30,” he responded, “I would have liked to hear your beautiful voice before but…we’ll talk tonight before 6:00…good day at school bb and I kiss you all over :).”

A little while later, when she still hadn’t responded, he texted again, asking if everything was okay, writing “Is all well my heart?” and “I’m a little worried here.”

The police investigation showed that cellphone use was a factor in the crash, Fortin writes, adding that the irony of the final texts still breaks his heart.

“How can a text message or email be more urgent than life?” Fortin of Victoriaville, Quebec, writes, according to a translation from French. “At what point does using your phone become more important than the people you love?”

Cellphone use -- either texting or talking on the phone -- is involved in 24 percent of all vehicle crashes, according to the National Safety Council.

“It’s important to remember that most cellphone communications require two parties,” David Teater with the National Safety Council told ABC News. “It takes two to text, so you have a responsibility not to participate in such risky behavior. It’s almost like letting a friend leave a bar drunk and get behind the wheel.”

“If something were to happen, if someone were to get killed, can you imagine going through life knowing you were on the phone with them when that happened?” Teater said.

On the Facebook page, Fortin writes that he feels guilty about Brochu’s death, and that he hopes people remember her when they think about picking up the phone while driving.

“It could be a child crossing the street while you’re staring at your phone,” Fortin writes, “THINK ABOUT IT!”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Pot Smoking Raises Risk of Fatal Car Crashes

iStockPhoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Driving after smoking pot can double a person’s risk of being in a serious or fatal car crash, according to a review of studies published Thursday in the British Medical Journal.

While it may seem like the review is just reinforcing advice to put it in park when under the influence, it’s actually the first review of studies to look at the risk of crashing under the influence of marijuana independent of any other substances such as alcohol, according to the authors.

The results of the review “provide a more definitive statement on the direction that efforts in public policy and intervention should take in addressing road safety,” the researchers wrote.

The findings did not change the policy of NORML, an organization advocating the legalization of marijuana.

“Just like alcohol, there’s a difference between use and abuse,” said Allen St. Pierre, executive director of NORML.

The organization condemns driving under the influence, he said.  

Researchers in Canada reviewed nine studies that totaled nearly 50,000 people and found those who smoked within three hours before driving were twice as likely to get into a serious car accident. The risk was even higher among drivers aged 35 or younger.

Marijuana plays less of a role in car crashes than alcohol, but smoking pot, even in low doses, can put drivers at risk, researchers found. The studies didn’t clarify what role marijuana plays in minor car crashes.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio