2 July : Recently a study of patients of road accidents admitted in the Trauma ward of PGIMER was carried out by one of the staff nurses by personally interviewing all the admitted patients with fractures. Ms Amita Aggarwal, a BSc final year nurse, under the supervision of Dr Sukhpal Kaur and Prof M S Dhillon surveyed the admitted patients over 2 months, and found some startling data.
A total of 100 patients were enrolled in the study in the months of January-February, 2009. More than half of the subjects (59%) were in age group of 20-40 years, which is the most productive period of ones life. A finding of note was that half (51%) of the accidents had occurred in evening hours (3-8 pm) and 30% of accidents occurred on Saturday. Traffic rush is a plausible answer for this. 68% of the victims were driving a two wheeler, and 86% of all road accident victims were male. All of the above correlates well with international data.
However some startling facts were picked up; a major revelation was that despite such stringent measures being employed by police and social groups, only 27% of subjects were wearing protective equipment (helmet/seat belt) at the time of accident.
Secondly, almost 58% of the subjects were under the influence of alcohol at the time of accident. On questioning the victims, 86% of subjects admitted that they were aware of the fact that driving under influence of alcohol is not permitted by law.
A third unusual fact was brought to light. Our study showed that less than half (44%) of the subjects had valid license at time of accident, which is a serious infringement of rules.
The present study reflects that despite stringent measures by Police and public awareness campaigns, driving without protective equipment, driving under the influence of alcohol, and not having a valid driving licence are still issues play a major role in road accidents.
An important point to be noted is that the current patient group reflects the more serious ones, who are brought to PGI and are admitted. The data in the less serious cases, or those that suffer minor injuries may be even more frightening.
It is felt that the population and the government need to plan strategies to decrease risk of accidents in this vulnerable group, and to counter the fact that driving under the influence, not using protective equipment, and not having a valid licence are still reasons for a majority of serious accidents.