Nevada Department of Public Safety - Office of Traffic Safety awards traffic safety grant to School of Medicine

Risk Taking Behaviors and Vehicular Crashes: Identifying behaviors and interventions

Nevada Department of Public Safety - Office of Traffic Safety awards traffic safety grant to School of Medicine

Risk Taking Behaviors and Vehicular Crashes: Identifying behaviors and interventions

The Nevada Department of Public Safety - Office of Traffic Safety awarded a grant in the amount of $190,289 to Deborah A. Kuhls, M.D., FACS, FCCM (Principal Investigator) and Nadia Fulkerson, MPH (Co-Investigator) of the University of Nevada School of Medicine's Center for Traffic Safety Research for the 2015-2016 grant year to continue maintaining its previously-established database.

In order to obtain an overall understanding of lives lost and human and economic costs of traffic-related injuries, the Center for Traffic Safety Research created a database from multiple sources residing in standalone systems. This linked database uses 2005-2013 Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) crash records and statewide Nevada trauma center data.

"We have been able to quantify the incremental injury severity and cost of care related to restraint use, drinking or drug use and driving, helmet use by motorcyclists and scooters/moped drivers, impairment and improper street crossing by pedestrians," explained Kuhls. "Without the ability to update the data, we can only partially quantify the total impact of vehicular crashes in the state."

Traffic-related injuries in the State of Nevada decreased from 2008 to 2013, but traffic fatalities remained relatively unchanged (2009-2014 data: 243 to 268), despite local and statewide educational and awareness campaigns. Pedestrian, motorcycle, and bicycle crashes also remain serious public health issues, with 72, 55, and eight fatalities, respectively, in 2014.

Descriptive analyses from the linked database have identified human and economic impacts of various types of traffic related injuries. For example, using the 2005-2013 linked data, the Center for Traffic Safety Research has shown that at Nevada trauma centers, a much higher percentage of in-hospital traffic-related fatalities resulted from pedestrian crashes (6.8 percent), followed by motor vehicle (2.9 percent), motorcycle (2.9 percent), and moped/scooter (2.8 percent).
The cost of uninsured traffic crash victims admitted to a trauma center in 2013 was $99.6 million. This burden of uncompensated hospitalization is largely carried by taxpayers and the state of Nevada.

Research findings such are summarized in quarterly TREND newsletters, which are available online to the public free of charge. The Center's goals during this grant period include targeting safety and injury prevention efforts to at-risk populations as well as discouraging the public from engaging in risk-taking behaviors.

The chosen countermeasures to address the large number of traffic-related injuries and fatalities in Nevada are data analysis, data-driven messaging, and data-driven interventions. This grant will support adding 2014 data to provide a more comprehensive database to develop statistical modeling to identify predictive and protective factors for traffic-related injuries.

"By leveraging data, especially using our unique, linked database, we can continue to provide essential information to legislative, community, and state organizations as well as to individual injury prevention initiatives," said Fulkerson. "This research can help us, our community partners and our Nevada Trauma Centers develop the most appropriate, targeted interventions to make the largest possible impact in preventing injuries."

In addition to providing this research, the Center for Traffic Safety Research will continue to participate with local organizations, including University Medical Center of Southern Nevada, that work to prevent traffic-related injuries and fatalities.

In preparation for local and state legislative initiatives, the Center plans evidence-based reviews to support plans that will decrease vehicular morbidity and mortality. Kuhls is active in several national injury prevention organizations that are collaborating to identify effective interventions. This information will be shared with partner organizations to help focus prevention and other activities. 

For further information, visit the Center for Traffic Safety Research.

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