I spend time every year reviewing the most common causes of death. The trend continues cardiovascular disease claims around 600,000 a year and cancer is not far behind. Then I try to figure ways to help lower the risks especially in heart disease of helping an individual lower their risk. I have just finished a new book, “Medicines that Kill” which shows that medications are the number one cause of death in America. Who would’ve thought? As I was driving north on I-75 the other morning thinking about ways to help individuals avoid being a casualty of medications,  a twenty-something female passed me while texting on her cell phone.

My daughter, Kelli, is about to become a driver and I am so protective of her. All parents, loved ones and friends should be concerned about anyone behind the wheel. Driving is a legitimate concern and health hazard, just like medicines, heart disease and cancer. A motor vehicle accident is quick and often devastating. In the younger generation accidents are a leading cause of death. Of course the most common cause of accidents is motor vehicle accidents. As I was driving and saw this act of texting, I was compelled to do something to at least let the world know I was concerned about this problem.

In 1899 there were 26 deaths recorded from motor vehicle accidents. In 1972, there were 54,589 deaths and in 2010 there were 32,855 deaths. Every day I pass a sign on the interstate which tells how many have died this year. I wander how many people think about this? Does behavior change? I make many recommendations to lower the risk from cardiovascular disease such as stop smoking , exercise, watch your cholesterol and blood pressure. The list goes on and on. Occasionally I throw in my two cents on cancer. Well today I am going to weigh-in on deaths from motor vehicles. What can we do? What should be said? Someone reading this might have a new driver. Someone else might have lost a loved one. These deaths are just too high. Here are just a few ways to lower the risk.

1. Always and I repeat always, have everyone in the vehicle wear their seat belts. Infants in the correct child seat for their age in the back seat.
2. Never use a cell  phone or electronic device. Driving and watching out for others on the road could be life threatening and needs our full attention. Never assume you are safe.
3. Do not get behind the wheel while impaired by alcohol, drugs, or medications.
4. Do not drive while tired.
5. Make sure you do not drive in a traffic situation you are unprepared to handle. Many accidents happen to the young
6. If your senses are getting older, cannot see or hear as well. Take this into account.
7. Say a prayer for your guardian angel for protection.

I know you have heard these all before, but take these suggestions to heart especially if you drive foe a living, have just begun to drive, or if you are losing skills. Driving is a danger that we often do not think about. 32,855 deaths in 2010 is something to take seriously. Next time you are behind the wheel think about the health risks of a task many take for granted, driving. May prayers go out for the many who have lost a loved one in an accident.