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Vanderbilt, country superstar Tim McGraw share important message regarding dangers of distracted driving

May. 9, 2013, 10:01 AM

Vanderbilt University Medical Center is raising awareness of the dangers associated with distracted driving through its participation in the newly released video for the song “Highway Don’t Care,” performed by Tim McGraw and featuring Taylor Swift and Keith Urban. Vanderbilt LifeFlight, Vanderbilt University Hospital and the Adult Emergency Department were featured in the video, which depicts a young woman injured in a car accident as the result of texting while driving.

“We at LifeFlight unfortunately transport and treat many young patients in the prime of their lives with serious, if not life-threatening or fatal injuries that are a direct result of not focusing on the road,” said Jeremy Brywczynski, M.D., Medical Director for Vanderbilt LifeFlight and assistant professor of Emergency Medicine. “When we were approached to participate in a music video that will reach millions of youth around the country about these dangers, it was an opportunity that we could not refuse.”

Brywczynski was one of more than 20 Vanderbilt faculty and staff who participated in the video shoot, along with Jared McKinney, M.D., assistant professor of Emergency Medicine and medical director for the Event Medicine division of LifeFlight, Sean Collins, M.D., associate professor of Emergency Medicine, flight nurse Rachel Jones, R.N., B.S.N., and Bo Phillips, NREMT-P, FP-C, chief flight paramedic, with Tom Adams as pilot.

Each day in the United States, more than nine people are killed and more than 1,060 are injured in crashes that involve a distracted driver, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Distracted driving, especially driving while texting, has been shown to cause a level of impairment similar to that of alcohol intoxication,” Brywczynski said.

The Vanderbilt Trauma team is raising awareness of the dangers associated with distracted driving by signing and circulating pledge cards that promise to avoid all behind-the-wheel activities that take attention away from the road. (photo by Sondra Blount)

Nurses at Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Level-1 Trauma Center want to see an end to behind-the-wheel activities that take attention away from the road. These caregivers, who treat hundreds of seriously injured patients each year due to distracted driving, are taking a pledge to raise awareness of the dangers associated with it.

As part of National Trauma Awareness Month, recognized each May, Vanderbilt Trauma nurses are leading a campaign titled “If You’re Distracted, We’re Impacted,” an initiative of the Society of Trauma Nurses. Pledge cards are being circulated throughout the hospital, encouraging people to avoid all distractions while driving a vehicle and spread the message to family and friends.

“As a driver, you not only assume responsibility for your own safety but the safety of your passengers, bystanders and those in other vehicles,” said Trauma Outreach and Injury Prevention Coordinator Cathy Wilson, R.N., M.S.N. “Vanderbilt’s Trauma staff have taken the pledge to refrain from distracted driving and extend this challenge to all drivers.”

Distracted driving is defined as driving while doing another activity that takes your attention away from the road, such as text messaging, talking on the phone, eating or putting on makeup. While any of these distractions can endanger the driver and others, texting while driving is especially dangerous because it combines three types of distraction: visual – taking your eyes off the road; manual – taking your hands off the wheel; and cognitive – taking your mind off what you are doing.

*Distracted driving statistics:

–       Text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted.

–       16 percent of fatal crashes involve reports of distracted driving.

–       20 percent of injury crashes involve reports of distracted driving.

–       Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves.

–       Sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. At 55 mph, this is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field blindfolded.

–       Using a cell phone while driving, whether hand-held or hands-free, delays a driver’s reaction as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08.

*Source: Society of Trauma Nurses

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