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Preventing Motor Vehicle Injuries

How are people injured in motor vehicles?

Millions of Americans are injured and tens of thousands die each year while driving or riding in cars, vans, trucks, or motorcycles. Some of the most common risk factors associated with motor vehicle injury and death are driving while under the influence of alcohol, not wearing safety belts, not using child safety seats, and not wearing helmets when riding motorcycles.

What can I do to prevent motor vehicle injuries?

To protect yourself and others from motor vehicle injuries and death, be sure to follow these important safety tips:

Don't drink and drive
  • Alcohol is a drug that impairs judgement, reaction time, physical coordination, and mental alertness, all of which affect your ability to drive. Alcohol plays a role in over 17,000 motor vehicle deaths each year in the U.S.
  • It takes the body about one hour to burn the alcohol in a can of beer, a glass of wine, or a shot of liquor. Do not drive until your blood alcohol level has returned to normal.
  • If you have been drinking, use a designated driver, call a cab, take public transportation, or ask a friend to pick you up.
  • If you are a passenger, never get into a car with a driver who has been drinking.
Buckle up
  • In a crash situation, safety belts prevent you from being thrown from or around the vehicle. They reduce the risk of death and serious injury by up to 55 percent.
  • In order to be effective for adults, both the lap and shoulder belts should be fastened.
  • On every trip, no matter how short, make sure that everybody is wearing a safety belt. Be a role-model and buckle up immediately!
Use child safety seats
  • In Michigan, children under the age of one must use a rear-facing safety seat in either the front or back seat of the vehicle. Children between the ages of 1 to 3 must use a child safety seat in either the front or back seat, or use a safety belt belt in the back seat. Child safety seats reduce the risk of serious motor vehicle injuries and death by about 70 percent.
  • Warning: Do not use a rear-facing child safety seat in the front seat of a vehicle that has a passenger-side air bag. If the air bag inflates, it can cause serious injury. Be sure to put the child safety seat in the back seat.
  • Carefully read the manufacturer's instructions and the vehicle owner's manual to learn how to properly install your child's safety seat.
Wear a helmet
  • Michigan law states that all motorcyclists (passengers and drivers) must wear safety helmets. Head injury rates are reduced from 40 to 75 percent among bikers who use helmets.

For more information on on general safe driving in Michigan, visit the Michigan State Police Web site.

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