Be alert: “Trauma Season” begins on Canada’s roadways

Serious injuries and deaths are 30 per cent higher from June through August than for the rest of the year.

May 16, 2018 – As the Victoria Day long weekend approaches, the days are longer, the bad weather is over – and your chances of causing or suffering traumatic injuries on our roads is 30 per cent higher than they are from September through May.

"The three-month period following spring marks the beginning of an unofficial 'trauma season' for both children and adults,” says Dr. Neil Merritt, a paediatric surgeon and a board director with the Trauma Association of Canada (TAC), a multi-disciplinary society focused on the care of the injured patient and family. From 2012 to 2017, 45 more people on average died from an injury each summer month on our roads than during the rest of the year. “Sadly, we see increased deaths and traumatic injuries, which we define as an injury of sudden onset and severity that requires medical attention.”

While people’s driving patterns change in the summer months – no school for children, driving on vacation, travelling to a cottage, camp or other summer destination – that does not explain this consistent and troubling increase in motor vehicle collisions that cause such serious injuries and death.

Many other factors contribute to the increase in fatalities during June to August: people are travelling longer distances on less-familiar roads, traffic volumes increase and, with the good road conditions, people are overconfident and more likely to engage in unsafe driving, from speeding to being distracted at the wheel to driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

“Our goal is to make ‘Trauma Season’ a thing of the past,” says Steve Podborski, President and CEO of Parachute, Canada’s national charity dedicated to injury prevention. Parachute leads national awareness efforts for Vision Zero, a commitment to eliminate serious injuries and deaths from motor vehicle crashes. “The only way we are going to change these numbers is for each driver to take more responsibility, to design our cars and roads to mitigate against distraction and inattention, and invest in more enforcement of speed limits and road safety rules.”

Inattention and distraction at the wheel takes three forms, Podborski says: “There’s visual distraction, when your eyes leave the road; manual distraction, when you take your hands off the wheel; and cognitive distraction, when your mind wanders. When you think the conditions are safe, it’s easy to get careless about things such as texting while driving, or simply letting your attention drift.”

Parachute and TAC reminds all drivers to be as vigilant driving on a clear summer’s day as they are in the midst of an icy storm and to not be lulled into a false sense of safety. “These collisions are not accidents: they are preventable,” says Dr. Merritt. “Your motor vehicle is a heavy, fast-moving object that can damage and destroy life. Neither you, your child nor anyone else’s child should die this way.”

Read more tips from Parachute on preventing distracted driving
Read more about Vision Zero in Canada

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For more information and to set up interviews about “Trauma Season”, contact:

Kelley Teahen, Director, Communications and Marketing, Parachute 647 776-5128
media@parachutecanada.org

About Parachute

Parachute is Canada’s national charity dedicated to reducing the devastating impact of preventable injuries. Injury is the No. 1 killer of Canadians aged 1 to 44, where one child dies every nine hours. The financial toll is staggering, with injury costing the Canadian economy $27 billion a year. Through education and advocacy, Parachute is working to save lives and create a Canada free of serious injuries. For more information, visit us at parachutecanada.org and follow us on Twitter, FacebookInstagram and LinkedIn.

About the Trauma Association of Canada

The Trauma Association of Canada (TAC), incorporated in 1984, is unique as it is the only national not-for-profit professional specialty organization focused solely on the care of the injured patient (andfamily). The vision of TAC is to"improve the lives of all those affected by or at risk of traumatic injury" by bringing together multidisciplinary health care professionals involved in the care of the injured patient.