Injury Prevention Laws Save Lives

A recent story by The Baltimore Sun shows that thousands of lives have been saved over the years because Americans now routinely use seat belts and don’t drive drunk. In the meantime, a new crisis has arisen with driving, and that seems to be the use of texting and cell phones. Overdoses of prescription medicine have also affected car safety.

Andrea Gielen, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research & Policy, co-authored a report released by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The report brings to the fore the identification of ten important injury prevention measures. Some states have adopted many of these provisions. The report aims at influencing public policy and laws to change the behavior of individuals.

The report shows that no state has adopted all of the measures that focus on such things as seat belts, helmets for bicyclists and motorcyclists, child safety seats and prescription drug monitoring programs.

The report indicates that not only are the laws that prevent injuries important for health, but the prevention of injuries are also a financial concern. Federal funding for injury prevention has been cut by 24 percent in the last five years.

Fifty million Americans are treated for injuries every year, including 9.2 million children who are taken to emergency rooms, says Jeffrey Levi, executive director of the Trust for America’s Health. Levi said that about 12,000 children die from their injuries. Preventable injuries result in $4.6 billion in lifetime costs for medical care and lost productivity.

The injury prevention laws are making gains. Seat belts saved an estimated 69,000 lives from 2005 to 2010. Motorcycle helmets have saved an estimated 8,000 lives and child safety seats another 1,800 lives from 2005 to 2009.

Maryland has passed 8 of the 10 safety measures. New York and California have scored the highest with 9 of 10 laws passed. On the other hand, Montana and Ohio are at the bottom, with just 2 of 10 safety measures made into law.

The safety rules listed in the report include:
• Seat belts (32 states)
• Drunk driving – mandatory ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers (16 states)
• Motorcycle helmets for all riders (19 states, excluding Illinois)
• Booster seats to age 8 (33 states)
• Bicycle helmets for all children (21 states)
• Intimate partner violence allows people in dating relationships to get protection orders (44 states)
• Teen dating violence, several measures recommended (6 states)
• Concussions, several measures recommended, including baseline exams for school sports (36 states)
• Accidental prescription drug overdose or use, have an active monitoring program (48 states)
• Ecodes, include a code on patient discharge forms for emergency rooms showing the injury cause for research purposes (23 states)
For Illinois:
• Illinois Safety Belt law, July 1, 1985; front seat passengers in Illinois are required to wear seat belts.

• Illinois Child Passenger Protection Act of 1983; anyone under 8 must be transported in a child restraint system when in an a car in Illinois.

• Local phone ordinances 2005; City of Chicago passed an ordinance banning hand-held cell phones for drivers of vehicles on city streets; the Illinois law makes it unlawful for children under 18 to speak on cell phones while driving.

• Illinois Protecting our Athletes Act of 2012, effective July 28, 2011; concussion in sports.

Kreisman Law Offices has been promoting safety for its clients and community for more than 36 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Skokie, Chicago (Pulaski Park), Chicago (Rogers Park), Chicago (Humboldt Park), Oakbrook Terrace, Yorkfield, Westchester, Clarendon Hills, Hinsdale, Western Springs and Blue Island, Illinois.

Related blog posts:

Texting, Driving, and Causing Accidents is Still Insured

Cook County Jury Finds for Driver Who Hits Crossing Teen in Front of High School

More Than 16,000 Deaths in Six Years: Texting While Driving