Most people don’t like them. Privacy advocates abhor them. But, really– how many things can you name that save lives AND generate revenues for cash-strapped local and state governments? Red-light cameras are one such item.
A recent study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has shown that red-light cameras saved 159 lives over a four-year period in the 14 large U.S. cities where the study took place. The scientists claimed that more than 800 traffic fatalities would have been prevented during the course of the study if the cameras had been deployed in all large U.S. cities.
The scientists compared fatal car crash rates in U.S. cities with populations of at least 200,000 for two four-year periods: 1992 to 1996 and 2004 to 2008. They excluded cities that had already deployed red-light cameras in the earlier period, and cities that instituted cameras during the later period.
In the 14 cities that used red-light cameras during 2004 to 2008, the rate of fatal red-light running crashes was 35 percent lower than in 1992 to 1996. The crash rate did drop in cities that never deployed camera programs, but only by 14 percent.
Based on these data, the scientists determined that the rate of fatal red-light running crashes was 24 percent lower in cities with cameras in 2004 to 2008 than it would have been had they not deployed the cameras. In fact, the benefits of red-light cameras were actually larger than this. The rate of all fatal crashes at intersections with signals (not just red light running crashes) dropped by 14 percent in cities that deployed red-light cameras, whereas it increased by 2 percent in other cities. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Pizaazz*
San Francisco recently passed a law requiring disclosure to consumers of the amount of radiation emitted by cellphones at the point of sale. Research has been inconclusive on whether there is a link between cellphone usage and cancer. More definitive findings could be years away.
Understandably the law addresses a universal concern that we all have. We are more fearful of threats we can’t see, smell, hear, taste, or touch. Radon, carbon monoxide, and radiation fit these criteria.
Yet, cellphones kill in other ways which are far more immediate, equally as subtle, and just as concerning. This silent epidemic is increasing at an alarming rate. Everyone sees it, but does nothing about it. Read more »
It’s time to ask patients whether they text and drive. An important perspective piece from the New England Journal of Medicine urges doctors to include that question during preventive health exams. The data surrounding texting and driving is grim:
Although there are many possible distractions for drivers, more than 275 million Americans own cell phones, and 81% of them talk on those phones while driving. The adverse consequences have reached epidemic proportions. Current data suggest that each year, at least 1.6 million traffic accidents (28% of all crashes) in the United States are caused by drivers talking on cell phones or texting. Talking on the phone causes many more accidents than texting, simply because millions more drivers talk than text; moreover, using a hands-free device does not make talking on the phone any safer.
The author of the piece, Amy Ship from Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital, says that doctors should update traditional preventive questions to keep up with the times. The simple question, “Do you text while you drive?” is a way to start this important conversation. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at KevinMD.com*
Latest Tweets from @DrVal
Better Health Audio
Healthy VisionTM with Dr. Val: Safe Contact Lens Wear and Care
I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…
It s no secret that most physicians are unhappy with the way things are going in healthcare. Surveys report high levels of job dissatisfaction burn out and even suicide. In fact some believe that up to a third of the US physician work force is planning to leave the profession…
When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…
I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…
I met Dr. Marty Makary over lunch at Founding Farmers restaurant in DC about three years ago. We had an animated conversation about hospital safety the potential contribution of checklists to reducing medical errors and his upcoming book about the need for more transparency in the healthcare system. Marty was…