How to survive a motor vehicle crash

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In the United States, thousands of motor vehicle collisions occur every day. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), over 6 million vehicle crashes were reported to police in 2015. The Idaho Transportation Department reported over 25,300 motor vehicle crashes in 2016 within the State of Idaho. 110 of those crashes were here in Boundary County.

Motor vehicle collisions remain one of the leading causes of serious injury and death in America. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in 2013, more than 32,000 Americans died due to vehicle crashes. In 2016 NHTSA reported 11.6 crash-related fatalities per 100,000 people in the United States. In our state of Idaho, that number rose to 15 per 100,000. Even more startling, of the 253 traffic-related deaths that occurred in Idaho in 2016, 195 occurred in rural areas, such as Boundary County.

What steps can you take to protect yourself, and those you love from a crash?

First, while it might seem obvious, try not to get in a crash in the first place. Distracted driving is anything that takes your attention away from the road. This can be things like sending or reading a text. According to the CDC, reading a text message for 5 seconds while traveling at 55 mph, is long enough for you to have covered the length of a football field.

Second, give yourself, and those you love, a fighting chance in the event a crash occurs. The CDC asserts that using child car seats, booster seats, and seat belts reduces serious injuries and deaths by around 50 percent. Airbags are helpful, but do not replace a seat belt.

Third, know what to do if you are involved in, or witness a crash. Stop. Move to a safe area, if you are able. Turn your flashers on, to alert other drivers. Call 911. Stay on the line and give the dispatcher information as to the location of the crash, the number of people involved, and the type of injuries you suspect. Back and spinal cord injuries can be serious. Do not attempt to move the injured person. Ask them not to turn their head. Apply direct pressure to any bleeding sites. Cover the victim as needed to keep them warm. Remain with the person until EMS arrives.

Boundary Ambulance and Boundary Community Hospital in partnership with the Idaho Time Sensitive Emergencies program are working to improve trauma survival rates in our county. Your rapid response is the first link in the chain to reduce the number of injuries and deaths from crashes.

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