How To Avoid Motor Vehicle Accidents

Motor vehicle accidents are one of the leading causes of injury. Even a low-speed (5-10 mph) crash with little or no vehicle damage can result in some injury.

Injuries caused by motor vehicle accidents can range from minor to life threatening. Common minor injuries include cuts, bruises, and scrapes. More severe injuries may include back and neck injuries (such as strained neck muscles), broken bones, head injuries, organ damage, crush injuries, and burns.

Anyone can be injured in a motor vehicle accident, but children are hurt most often. Most injuries occur form not using the proper safety restraints (like seatbelts and car seats). A child sitting in an adult’s lap or not properly restrained can receive serious injuries, even at low speeds or during sudden stops.

Treatment depends on the type, location, and severity of your injury. Minor injuries (like bruises and strained muscles) usually heal on their own within a few weeks. More serious injuries may require long-term treatment and rehabilitation.

It’s very important to monitor your symptoms. Some injuries that don’t seem serious may get worse over time. Other injuries can take days or even weeks to appear. Follow-up with your regular doctor (or recommended specialist) is requires.

Home Care

  • Take any prescribed medication exactly as directed.
  • If you are pregnant, call your OB/GYN as soon as possible.
  • Take only medications that your doctor has approved.
  • Watch for signs of "whiplash" (sudden neck strain). These include neck, shoulder, or back pain or stiffness, and pain or numbness in the hands.
  • Do not drink alcohol or take illegal drugs. These substances can cover up any symptoms that might appear.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Resume normal activities slowly.
  • Ask your doctor when you can drive a car or operate any other equipment that requires a quick reaction.
  • If you injure your lower back be aware of pain, numbness, burning and/or tingling going down one of your legs.

If you had a head injury:

  • Watch for signs of concussion. These include confusion, headache, sleepiness, dizziness, vomiting, loss or balance, double or fuzzy vision, and memory or concentration problems.
  • Look for any fluid leaking from the ears or nose. The liquid may be clear or blood tinged.
  • Make sure someone stays with you for at least the first 24-48 hours after the accident.
  • Write things down if you need help remembering.
  • Talk with your doctor about what restrictions you should follow and for how long.

Prevention

  • In order to stay safe and healthy while driving remember same basic rules:
  • NEVER text and drive. People texting while driving are more dangerous than drunk drivers. Please protect yourself and others – do not text and drive.
  • Obey all speed limited and traffic laws.
  • Drive defensively (trying to avoid risk and danger) and be respectful and polite to others on the road.
  • Focus on your driving. Avoid using a cell phone, eating, reading, watching TV or videos, and applying makeup while driving. If you must use your cell phone, make sure you have "hands free" calling for your car. Keep your conversations short. It could save your life and others on the road.
  • Always wear a seat belt and have children wear the proper safety restraints.

When to Call the Doctor

Call the doctor, or go to the Emergency Department, right away if you develop:

  • new or worsening symptoms
  • abdominal or chest pain
  • trouble breathing
  • headache, dizziness, nausea, or tiredness
  • trouble seeing or speaking
  • difficulty awakening from sleep
  • weakness or numbness in any part of the body
  • blood or clear fluid leaking from the nose or ears

If you are a pregnant woman and have any of the following, call your doctor or go to the Emergency Department right away:

  • labor contractions
  • abdominal pain
  • bleeding from your vagina
  • blood clots, tissues, or fluid passing from your vagina

Motor vehicle collisions are a common source of concussions/head injuries

A concussion is an injury to the brain, usually caused by a blow to the head. The brain normally floats in fluid inside the skull. A blow jolts the brain so it moves around and hits the walls of the skull, damaging brain tissue.

Concussions are common in sports, particularly contact sports like football, rugby, and boxing. They can also occur in car accidents and falls, especially in children and the elderly.

A concussion causes temporary changes in brain function that can affect thinking, vision, balance, and consciousness. Symptoms of a concussion may include confusion, feeling dazed, headache, nausea, double or fuzzy vision, dizziness, loss of balance, short-term memory loss (an inability to remember just before and after the incident) and loss of consciousness (from seconds to a few minutes). Additional symptoms may include fatigue, trouble concentrating, trouble remembering things, and irritability. Symptoms typically resolve slowly over several days to several weeks.

Treatment depends on the severity of the concussion. In general, it involves supportive measures and close monitoring for complications. Follow-up with your regular doctor (or a recommended specialist) is required.

Home Care

After examination, the doctor has determined that you can go home. Here are some thing you should do to help yourself recover:

  • Stay with someone for at least the first 24-48 hours. You should be checked at least once during the night to make sure that you can be easily awakened and are behaving normally.
  • Watch for worsening headache, dizziness, drowsiness, and irritability for the first 48-72 hours.
  • Take over-the-counter medicine like Tylenol or Motrin as directed for headache.
  • If there is a bump on your head, place ice on the swollen area for the first 48-72 hours. Be sure to wrap the ice in a towel. Apply it for 15-20 minutes, several times a day. This helps reduce swelling and relieve pain.
  • Resume normal activities slowly.
  • Get plenty of rest during the day and sleep at night.
  • Take only medications that your doctor has approved.
  • Until the doctor says it’s okay, don’t play sports or do any other activities that can result in another blow to the head.
  • Ask your doctor when you can drive a car or operate any other equipment that requires a quick reaction.
  • Don’t drink alcohol or take recreational drugs. They will slow your recovery.
  • Write things down if you need help remembering.

Prevention

Here are some ways to help prevent a future concussion:

  • Wear a federally approved safety helmet when bike riding, rollerblading, and participating in other sports or recreational activities that requires a helmet.
  • Use proper safety equipment for home repair to avoid falls.
  • Always wear a seat belt in the car.

When to Call the Doctor

Go to the Emergency Department, immediately if you develop:

  • Headaches that get worse
  • Weakness or numbness in any part of your body
  • Coordination problems that get worse
  • Vomiting (that occurs more than once)
  • Slurred speech
  • Problems waking up from sleep
  • More confusion, irritability, or anxiety
  • Any symptom that seems to be getting worse

Dizziness

Dizziness is a term that describes a range of feelings. It includes feeling lightheaded, faint, and unsteady. It may also feel like the room is spinning or rocking.

Dizziness is a symptom of many problems. Common causes include changing positions too quickly, inner ear problems, high or low blood pressure, heart problems (like an irregular heart rate), certain medications, dehydration (loss of too much body fluid), anemia (too few red blood cells), some strokes, stress, and anxiety.

Symptoms of dizziness can range from mild to severe. In most cases, they come on suddenly. The feelings can last from a few seconds to hours. Depending on the cause, additional symptoms may be present. These may include nausea, vomiting, weakness, ringing in the ears, and changes in vision.

Treatment focuses on easing symptoms and finding the cause. The doctor may prescribe medications. The cause of dizziness is sometimes difficult to diagnose. A follow-up with your regular doctor (or a recommended specialist) for testing may be needed.

Home Care

  • Take any prescribed or over-the-counter medications exactly as directed.
  • Change positions slowly, especially when rising from a lying down or sitting position.
  • Limit activities that may cause or worsen your symptoms.
  • Don’t drive, climb ladders, or operate machinery until the doctor says that it’s okay.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your doctor, or go to the Emergency Department, if you develop:

  • Fever
  • New or worsening symptoms
  • Dizziness without a clear cause
  • Changes in the way your dizziness usually feels
  • Dizziness that last more than 1 week
  • Dizziness after taking a new medication or a recent change in an old prescription