STATE—This Thanksgiving, tens of thousands of people will travel “over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house” and to thousands of other destinations to spend the holidays with friends and family. Sadly, some of those trips will end in tragedy with traffic accidents and ambulance rides to emergency rooms. Many of the injuries and fatalities sustained in those accidents will have been preventable. A new report recently released by the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) highlights the kinds of laws that could prevent many accidents, injuries and fatalities. The 2008 ENA National Scorecard on State Roadway Laws: A Blueprint for Injury Prevention reviews the roadway safety laws in all 50 states and the District of Columbia based on 13 criteria supported by evidence and research.
The criteria address: seat belt use; child passenger safety; graduated driver licensing for teens; universal motorcycle helmet requirements; ignition interlock devices to prevent drunk driving; and giving the proper officials the authority to develop, maintain and evaluate a state trauma system. The types of legislation that meet these criteria are proven to reduce injuries and fatalities on our nation’s roadways. States received one point for meeting each of the criteria. Only two states, Oregon and Washington state, received perfect scores of 13. Arkansas was the lowest scoring state with three points, followed by North Dakota and South Dakota, with four points each.
Across the country, emergency nurses care for thousands of accident victims every year. As the largest organization of emergency nurses in the United States, the ENA is working to reduce motor vehicle injuries and fatalities by pointing out the gaps in roadway laws and promoting legislation to address them.
“Every year, there are more than 40,000 deaths on our nation’s roadways,” said ENA President Denise King, RN, MSN, CEN. “We can reduce those numbers and we know how. When it comes to injury prevention, the public is in the driver’s seat. We must call on our policy makers to pass laws that are proven to reduce injuries and fatalities. Across the country, emergency department nurses, who treat roadway accident victims every day, are encouraging more and better traffic safety laws.”
The ENA released its first National Scorecard in 2006. That year, Arizona received the lowest score. In the intervening two years, the Arizona Emergency Nurses Association (AZENA) has worked with state lawmakers to enact five new safety laws and regulations recommended by ENA. Since 2006, only seven statesAlabama, Arkansas, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming failed to make progress in increasing the number of recommended roadway safety laws.
2008 ENA National Scorecard on State Roadway Laws: A Blueprint for Injury Prevention is current as of October 22, 2008 and is available online at www.ena.org.
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