In the emergency department, our staff is ready to assist you when you need us. Our skilled and compassionate board-certified emergency medicine physicians and staff are trained to treat trauma of all kinds. However, some trauma is preventable. We, the staff of St. Luke’s Wood River emergency department, want to draw your attention to motor vehicle accidents. We have seen an increase in the past year, many resulting in serious injuries and, sadly, fatalities.  There isn’t one particular reason, so we hope to draw your attention to some key safe driving measures in the hope of preventing more trauma that is preventable and all too often results in tragedy.

Before you get on the road

    Always wear your seatbelts.

    Consider putting your phone on “do not disturb” mode while driving, use Bluetooth technology or put your phone where you cannot see, hear or reach it. Many of us have witnessed drivers holding their phone and the steering wheel or even looking down. It only takes a second for an accident to occur and you may not even be moving fast. Multi-tasking is a myth, the area of the brain that processes moving images decreases by up to one-third when someone is listening or talking on the phone.

    Always drive with your headlights on—a car is visible for nearly four times the distance with its lights on.

Safe driving habits

    Always use your turn signals.

    Pay attention to all signs

    When stopping at a stop sign, spell s-t-o-p to yourself before proceeding. Always turn your head to look left, then right, straight ahead, then left again before proceeding.

    When a light turns green, look left, then right, straight ahead, then left again before proceeding through the light. Notice all vehicles and ensure that someone else is not going to run the light.

    Watch for cyclists and pedestrians! Our valley is full of residents and visitors alike who enjoy the outdoors and may be distracted.  Keep an eye out for them on roads, crosswalks and in parking lots.

    Be patient. Honking, driving aggressively or weaving through traffic can cause dangerous distractions and crashes.

    Scan ahead for wildlife.  Keep your eyes moving. Notice what is happening on the sides of the road and check behind you through your mirrors every six to eight seconds.

Speed

    Obey speed limits and drive appropriately for the road conditions. Vehicles are harder to control on wet, icy roads.  How many times has someone sped by you only to end up one car in front of you at a stoplight? As speed goes up, the survival rate in crashes goes down. Going over the speed limit or too fast for conditions accounts for nearly a third of all roadway fatalities.

    Leave early, plan to arrive 10 minutes before the appointed time. Speeding does not increase your ability to arrive on time, it only increases your chances of not arriving at all.

Impairment

    Focus on the road.  There are so many distractions in and out of the car, the kids, the phone, the touch screen technology, the Christmas lights and more. Driving distracted is as dangerous as driving impaired.

    Never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Alcohol and other drugs impair judgment and reaction time. There is no safe limit for drinking before driving.

    Prescription medications and over-the-counter drugs may cause dizziness, sleepiness and/or slow reaction time. If your medication carries a warning, have someone else drive or use other transportation.

    Do not drive fatigued. Take regular breaks, get another driver to relieve you or get off the road and find a safe place to rest.

    Together, we can eliminate preventable deaths. Taking sensible precautions like buckling up, avoiding distractions and never driving impaired will not only help avoid a trip to the emergency department, it can save your friends, neighbors and even you. We are here to take care of you but would much rather see members of our community and visitors on the slopes or in the grocery store.

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