Dr. Adison May 00:00
Atrium Health has a number of prevention activities. One of the most significant prevention activities is our partnership with Charlotte's Vision Zero initiative. The goal of that partnership is to reduce or eliminate, actually, preventable long-term death and disability from car wrecks, particularly focusing on high-risk roadways and intersections.
Atrium Health has the Charlotte area's only adult and pediatric Level One trauma centers at Atrium Health Carolinas Medical Center, and Atrium Health Levine Children's Hospital. That means we provide the highest level of comprehensive care for critically injured patients with a dedicated team present 24/7 to treat all types of traumatic injury. Carolinas Medical Center is one of the nation's busiest trauma centers and only getting busier. That's where Dr. Addison May, then the expert trauma team, steps in.
Dr. Adison May 00:55
Motor vehicle collisions are by far and away the number one reason why our trauma team is activated to treat serious injury. In fact, car crashes are one of the largest causes of preventable long-term disability and death. If you look at Atrium Health's trauma centers, we admit 3,000, more than 3,000, annually, patients injured severely by car crashes. That's, if you think about it, that's eight a day, 365 days a year. So that's a big cause of preventable death and disability. Well, I think most importantly, is actually crashes are not accidents. They're actually preventable events caused really by human behavior, such as speeding, distracted driving, driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
People need to know that the problem can be addressed. That change can occur, and that change starts with them. There is a major disconnect about behaviors such as speeding, running lights, and intoxicants where people want to believe that their personal behavior isn't related to crashes and injury. Because the energy involved in vehicle crashes increases so greatly with speed, injuries are much more severe as speed increases.
Keiana Derr 02:14
My first crash happened Aug. 15, 2019. I just got home from annual training with the military. So that was a month-long process, I'm ready to get home. I was on my way home and I was hit head on by truck. I didn't have much time to react, all I could do was just hold the wheel steady, plant my feet, breathe, and just know that God had me. My seatbelt was on but it did not restrain me and my airbag did not deploy. So I took all that force. And when I woke up, I just remember saying, God, help me. God, help me. Everything has changed. When I wake up in the morning, I have to have therapy. So I have to take one of the massagers and massage each leg thoroughly. So that takes at least an hour, before I can actually put my feet down on the ground. Then I have to stand up and have to bend my knees. Now they're creaking. They're popping. My son, I tried to get up at five in the morning so that I'm at least awake three to four hours before he's up. Give myself time to get turned around. I'm stressed out a lot, seeing as it's just me taking care of a house, a car, bills three-year-old. I just have to take it day-by-day. And before, I guess you could say I was a free spirit. And I really did have a strong faith in the most high without realizing it. Because I knew I was gonna wake up and you know, I'm gonna get where I'm going. So no, I never thought I would have went through a crash like that. After the car accidents and things. It's just like, it could really happen at any second, any moment, any time. It doesn't matter. You could be driving just fine doing the speed limit and here comes somebody just trying to cross over you and clip you. Now it's over, you know, because of their negligence. Even if you survived the trauma, you go through it every single time you get on that road. It's an anxiety, it's a, you're paralyzed sometimes when you're just sitting there in your car like, wow, am I gonna be okay? Like, woah, they're coming up really fast on me. Like, there is an emotional toll that those actions have on people. You should be conscious everyday when you get behind that wheel that you could possibly take life if you don't pay attention.
The three things we see involved in all traumatic crashes are impairment, speed and distraction. Nine out of 10 fatal crashes involve human error up to 68% of people involved in crashes have an intoxicating substance in their system. 45% of fatal crashes in Charlotte involve drivers who are speeding. At least 15% involve drivers not paying attention to the road.
Dr. Adison May 04:48
Typical day on call for me I'll probably interface with five to 10 families whose loved ones have been injured in a car crash. That would mean perhaps taking one or two patients emergently to the OR to try and save their lives and then discussing with families the long-term impact that injuries from a car crash will have on their loved ones. While driving home, I think about the number of crashes that occur on my neighborhood street, almost all of which are caused by speeding. The upside to that is, that's alterable. If you eliminate the speeding you eliminate the crashes. We all have our part to play. Vision Zero initiatives are doing its part to alter human behavior — have people drive within speed limits, eliminate distracted driving, so hopefully, we'll be able to alter that on my street. Well, as a trauma surgeon and a Charlottean, I hope that all Charlottean teens recognize their role to play. The initiatives that had been put into place by the Vision Zero, hopefully will allow people to focus on their behavior to observe the speed, neighborhood speed limits; to stop at crosswalks with pedestrians; maybe to stop at this red light when they know it's going to turn red; not drive under the influence; and mainly, wear your seatbelt.
Good Charlotteans don't put others at risk. So join us. Pledge to make good choices and encourage others to do the same. Not only for themselves, but for everyone in our community. Because even one traffic-related death is too many. For more visit Charlottenc.gov/visionzero.