One of the most prominent modern public health problems, the cause of a high proportion of premature deaths, especially among young adults, and a great deal of prolonged, sometimes permanent disability. Motor vehicle accidents have been the subject of a great deal of research, covering epidemiological features, i.e., risk factors, evaluation of design and engineering details to make cars safer, design and use of seat belts and air bags, road design, behavioral and social science studies of driver behavior, and emergency surgical care of critically injured traffic victims. Considerable progress has been made in recent decades in improved automobile and road safety design features, reducing unsafe driving practices, e.g., with teen driver education programs, medical screening of older drivers, severe penalties for impaired driving, and improved separation of high-speed traffic from other public highway users. New problems have arisen with increasing use of off-road vehicles. Many of the public health problems of motor vehicle accidents that are being effectively tackled in rich industrial nations are resurfacing in developing countries as these become motorized. The word “accident” implies an event over which people have no control, and as many such events are predictable and preventable, traffic crash is a preferred term, but it has never gained wide currency.
Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology.