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

Traffic related injuries and deaths in State of Nevada have remained essentially unchanged since 2009. Traffic fatalities were 243 in 2009 and 2011 and rose to 262 in 2012 and 267 in 2013 despite local and statewide campaigns.

The University of Nevada School of Medicine has collaborated with the Nevada Department of Public Safety, Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) over the last several years, forming a partnership to establish a state repository for the storage of medical information regarding traffic related injuries, deaths and crash records in Nevada. This repository is the first of its kind in the State of Nevada to allow the tracking of information from the crash scene to a patient's hospital discharge. Motor vehicle crash records from 2005-2012 have been linked to trauma records from the four Nevada trauma centers: University Medical Center of Southern Nevada, Renown Regional Medical Center, St. Rose Dominican Hospital and Sunrise Medical Center.

OTS awarded a grant in the amount of $140,888 to Deborah A. Kuhls, MD, FACS, FCCM (Principal Investigator) and Nadia Fulkerson, MPH (Co-Investigator) of the Center for Traffic Safety Research of the School of Medicine for the 2014-2015 grant year to continue maintaining that previously-established database.

Analysis of the database has identified valuable findings, including the socio-economic impact of various types of traffic related injuries. For example, data from 2005-2012, shows that a much higher percentage of pedestrians die at a trauma centers (7.9 percent) compared to motorcycle (4.6 percent) and motor vehicle (3.0 percent) crash victims. Patients injured in motor vehicle crashes (MVCs) and treated at Nevada trauma centers resulted in an average of $85 million in hospital charges annually. The State of Nevada paid $9 million (11 percent) of these costs annually for unrestrained patients that were uninsured.

Findings such as these generated from research of the database are communicated via TREND newsletters, with the expectation of promoting safety efforts for at-risk populations as well as discouraging the public from engaging in risk-taking behaviors and to tailor preventative programs accordingly. This grant will support adding 2013 data to provide a more comprehensive database to develop statistical modeling to identify predictive and protective factors for traffic-related injuries.

This grant will help Nevada measure the financial, resource and human impact of crashes and support legislative initiatives by providing agencies, hospitals and governmental agencies and legislative organizations with data that support their missions and initiatives. The database is poised to address priority areas for 2014-15 including pedestrian safety, motorcycle safety, impaired and distracted driving, occupant protection and other behaviors that contribute to injury and death.

Additionally, the School of Medicine is reaching out to agencies that hold Emergency Medical System data and Uniform Hospital Discharge Data Set to add to the database, in order to provide a more complete picture of the factors that might put individuals at risk for traffic- related injuries and to more completely define the economic impact of vehicular injuries.

This grant will also allow the Center for Traffic Safety Research to play a more active role in community organization traffic safety efforts. This includes increasing our involvement and expanding our work with at risk patients and community programs in injury prevention and educational interventions. Another goal is to aid organizations developing new interventions to implement evaluation plans for their programs. This will enable the community to determine the most effective interventions in order to make the biggest impact in a cost-efficient manner.

The ultimate objective is to make the analyses and data available to the public so that risk taking behaviors and other predictive factors can be used to inform individual and community decisions.

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