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Killer roads: Youth most injured

75 pc of accident victims are in the age group of 15 to 39 years: Study

EVER increasing number of vehicles, bad roads, reckless driving are not just mere civic or law and order problems. They account for a whopping number of 35,000 plus deaths due to Road Traffic Injuries (RTI) every year in our country, with the survivors accounting for a similar figure. The planning commission estimates a loss of Rs 55 thousand crore due to RTIs.

On the occasion of World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, Deccan Herald finds that road accidents do not just affect the physical well-being of the people involved but also impact the victims’ social and mental well-being.

Although the mandatory helmet rule has reduced accidents by 25 per cent, still much remains desired. In fact, for every death, 30 people are hospitalised for various injuries pointed out a collaborative study conducted by WHO-Nimhans and other organisations on Road Traffic Injuries for 2008. Half of these victims left with some disability for life. What’s more, RTIs contribute to one-third of the disabled population in our country and in the coming days will contribute to the larger share of the disabled population. What’s worse is that 75 per cent of the total RTI cases are between the age group of 15 to 39 years.

Injury pattern
Two-wheeler riders form the largest chunk of accident victims,says Dr G Gururaj, Professor and Head of Department of Epidemiology, Nimhans, who has conducted several studies in collaboration with WHO Centre for Injury and Prevention and Safety Promotion. In Bangalore alone, 300 out of the nearly 500 RTI deaths in a year, are two-wheeler mishaps, where a majority have sustained injuries on their head, upper and lower limps. 

Around 57 per cent of road traffic accident (RTA) cases have been reported in Nimhans since January. “Some of the tragic tales among road accidents are that of head injury victims, who change as a person. Such cases have to be dealt with utmost sensitivity both by the doctors and the victims’ families,” says Dr Sateesh, Nimhans’ Resident Medical Officer. He says head injuries can lead to permanent disability where the victim can suffer a paralytic attack or loose his intelligence completely.

Dr Gururaj highlights that RTIs impact the patients in three ways –– health, social and economic. While the health impact includes physical injuries like amputation, fracture, etc, psycho-social damages affect memory, speech and could also result in persistent vegetative state. The social impact includes the patient having to quit their job or work part-time due to the nature of their injury. Over a period of time, this causes maladjustment at the family level. The exorbitant hospital bills have a debilitating economic effect on the family.

Prevention
Dr Gururaj believes that there is no concrete study on RTI cases. “We need to do some research on vehicular design, human factor that may shed some light on the cause of RTIs, as there are multiple factors at play,” he says. There are two aspects to accidents –– to be safe and to make it safe. One of the major issues is also the poor state of emergency care in the City. “The three important things to be looked at are immediate care, right transport and right hospital. Road Safety is a complex field. It needs to be viewed in a scientific way by combining education, engineering and enforcement. The government also needs to improve trauma care and analyse RTIs,” he says.

(Published in Deccan Herald on 15th November, 2009; along with Poornima Nataraj)

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