No one ever wants to meet me. Well, at least inside of a hospital. If you are meeting me in a hospital, it is likely because you have been stabbed, shot, assaulted, or in a car accident. Although the only advice I have about avoiding the first three mechanisms of injury is to stay away from “two dudes” and not try to sell Bibles on the street at 2 a.m., I do have some more specific advice when it comes to car accidents.
In my non-scientifically-proven experience, the majority of my patients are in the hospital due to someone’s bad decisions — either their own or someone else’s. And don’t get me wrong, I make bad decisions all the time. For example, I ate a chocolate donut this morning for breakfast. However, no one ever expects their seemingly small bad decision to text their husband, or try and beat that red light on the way to work to result in their meeting me at the hospital. But it happens. Every. Single. Day. So, stay safe America, and here are some trusty driving tips from your friendly, neighborhood trauma surgeon.
1. Seatbelts are good, especially if you are pregnant. I am not going to go into how many pregnant women (just in the last year alone) I have seen ejected from vehicles during car accidents and try to describe the tragedy that ensues. However, no matter who you are — old, young, short, tall, overweight, or what trimester of pregnancy you are in — wear your dang seatbelt. It saves lives, and there is absolutely no excuse whatsoever to not wear one. So, can you please just wear it? Tire marks across your belly are just not a good look.
2. Texting is bad. I know it is hard for some of you young grasshoppers to imagine, but back in the day, phones needed to have wires. For this reason, they were only located in places with walls and telephone jacks. Meaning, somehow, I was successfully able to be a teenager and not communicate with anyone for the 15 to 20 minute drive between my house and my destination. And, believe it or not, my social life did not suffer. There is nothing in this world so important to make you pick up your phone at all while driving. Life seemed to go on just fine before this capability, and you have a much higher chance of your life continuing to go on if you forget that this capability exists.
3. Let’s talk about alcohol. I get it; alcohol seems to have some pretty magical powers. It will give the average Joe the comedic powers of Jerry Seinfeld. It can even make your 60-year-old neighbor look like Heidi Klum. But it will not make you a long-lost member of the Andretti family. In fact, it won’t make you a better driver of any vehicle in any way, shape, or form. It will make your reaction times slower and your likelihood of being involved in or causing an accident exponentially higher. This is true for driving cars, mopeds, motorcycles and yes, even golf carts.
Let me also tell you, also from my non-scientifically-proven experience: You will probably be fine. But, your friends riding with you, or the person that you hit with your car will not be. And living with the guilt of confining your best friend to a wheelchair for the rest of his or her life is probably something you don’t want. With so many designated driver services out there right now, there is just no reason to drive yourself after you have morphed into your Jerry Seinfeld alter ego.
4. Speaking of the Andrettis … Speeding really will not get you there any faster. And I can prove this mathematically. The average commuter travels 15 miles one way, with an average trip lasting almost 26 minutes. Increasing speed by 5 to 10 miles per hour for short periods of time is not going to shave your commute off by half. So, if you truly are running late, driving faster is not going to make up any considerable amount of time. You, in fact, will still be late. And let me tell you, being 10 minutes late to work is way better than not showing up at all.
Think I am exaggerating? Don’t want to follow any of the above advice? Don’t worry. I will still be here at the hospital, waiting to cut off all your clothes, see you naked, and then charge you for the experience. That doesn’t sound like fun? In that case, re-read the above, and we can meet for coffee instead.
Jamie Jones is a trauma surgeon. She blogs at Hot Heels, Cool Kicks, & a Scalpel.
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