In terms of etiology, motor vehicle collisions are greatly influenced by alcohol use, which has direct impacts on the risk of motor vehicle collisions but also leads to speeding, which itself strongly influences the chances of motor vehicle collision. Speeding greatly increases the likelihood of a collision as well as reducing available response times. Efforts aimed at both speeding and alcohol use have been especially effective in reducing motor vehicle injuries.
Motor vehicle collisions are also increased by texting, which greatly increases the response time when potential hazards occur. In addition, it may directly produce motor vehicle collisions by the movements or mechanical issues produced by texting, which disrupt safe driving.
Motor vehicle collisions can be reduced by road safety technology such as wider shoulders, barriers, and straighter roads. Vehicle collision prevention technology such as more visible brake lights, occupied blind spot notification systems, and out of lane notification systems may reduce the probability of collisions. Vehicle collision safety technology such as crumple zones, which absorb impacts, roll-over protections, and safety glass can reduce injuries when collisions do occur. Passenger restraint systems including safety belts and airbags can reduce the chance of injury from motor vehicle collisions.
In terms of outcome, an emergency response system can take advantage of the “golden hour,” a period of time when emergency intervention can save many lives, which can reduce death and disability after injuries do occur. The emergency response system can be thought of as including first responders, emergency department preparedness, as well as a trauma triage system helping ensure that those injured get appropriate care as fast as possible. By eliminating the long delays in reaching care, the emergency response systems have been especially effective in reducing the rate of death and disability due to motor vehicle injuries.
A systems analysis of both etiology and outcome underlies the approaches that have been used to address motor vehicle injuries. The collaborative efforts of public health and clinical medicine have been an essential ingredient in this success.