Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Highway safety...1950s style!

This billboard was spotted along US Route 250 near Dennison in the eastern part of Ohio. This is a real throwback to the 50s when we exhorted drivers to do the right thing and drive safely. Back then, scientific analysis of the causes of crashes, deaths, and injuries on US highways was in its infancy, and most popular messages were directed toward the driver. Now, we have a more enlightened viewpoint, and we know that it’s very hard to persuade or otherwise “educate” drivers not to crash. We take a much more balanced approach, exemplified by the “Haddon Matrix,” developed by William Haddon, Jr, MD, the first administrator of what became the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The Haddon Matrix considers all factors before, during, and after a crash: human (the driver, cyclist, or pedestrian), vehicular, and environmental (the road and roadside). For example, daytime running lights added to a vehicle can make it more visible before a potential crash, reducing the possibility of a crash with another vehicle in the first place. During a crash, built-in safety features in the car such as airbags can greatly reduce the possibility of death or injury. And prompt response by trained paramedics after the crash can further improve the chances of survival and recovery. Today, we practice this much more balanced approach to highway safety. Sadly however, not all measures that we know to be effective, such as mandatory motorcycle helmet use laws, are in place because of political pressure.

1 comment:

Rosamunde said...

People should read this.