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One Million Die in Car Accidents Every Year

Over 1 million people are killed in road traffic accidents around the world each year. Figures from the World Health Organization and the World Bank suggest another 50 million people may be left injured by crashes annually. If current trends continue road traffic accidents could outstrip stroke and HIV as one of the main causes of preventable deaths by 2020. Road traffic injuries could be one of the biggest causes of preventable deaths by 2020--third only to heart disease and depression. In the United States, traffic accidents remain the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 35.

One of my strong recommendations is to think twice when you are purchasing a car and consider purchasing all the available safety options, especially some of the newer ones like traction control, anti-lock brakes and side air bags. Interestingly, at this week's New York Auto Show there were even newer technologies announced that will be introduced before the end of the decade that could help even more. Features like computerized optical scanning and a variety of warnings like a vibrating steering wheel, the sound of a car driving over rumble strips and a visual warning projected on the windshield, an "active" system in which the vehicle would actually adjust the steering automatically if it veered too far one way or the other, and systems that use cameras to scan drivers' eyes or sense when they're loosening their grip on the steering wheel beyond normal.

British Medical Journal April 10, 2004;328:851

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