Out of milk? Quick, jump in the car and head to the supermarket. Contact lens solution getting low? It’s off to the drugstore you go. The next morning, pass out the cereal bars, and herd the kids into the car. With a quick “buckle up,” you head to their school and then off to your job.
Americans drive nearly 3 billion miles a year. Most of the time, we end up where we wanted to go. Other times, we don’t. Motor vehicle accidents took the lives of more than 41,000 people in 2007. Tens of thousands more were maimed and injured. Every day, emergency nurses see the tragic results of these accidents firsthand.Donna Mason addresses a recent news conference in Washington, D.C.
Viewing automobile injuries as a public health epidemic, the Emergency Nurses Association created the 2008 ENA National Scorecard on State Roadway Laws to illustrate evidence-based prevention measures that help curb needless death and automobile injures.
The ENA gathered research and looked at low-tech, low-cost options, such as wearing a seat belt, that save patients’ lives. Evidence pointed to 13 measures that made a difference. The association then examined which states require the known life-saving measures and developed the national scorecard.
The ENA National Scorecard
Each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia were assessed for the scorecard. Each state was awarded a point for each ENA criterion that was present in their laws (e.g., aspects of laws requiring seat belts, child booster seats, graduated driver’s licenses, motorcycle helmets, restrictions on drinking and driving, and a state trauma system).
States were evaluated only on whether they have laws that fit the scorecard criteria, not on how well laws are implemented or enforced. Data came from state and federal government sources and research journals as of Oct. 20, 2008. The only states that met all the ENA standards for safety laws were Oregon and Washington. Each received perfect scores of 13.
At the low end of the scale were states with the fewest traffic safety and injury prevention laws meeting ENA criteria: Idaho, Minnesota, and Ohio (5 points); North Dakota and South Dakota (4 points); and Arkansas, which lagged behind with only three life-saving state laws.
Telling the World About It
Donna Mason, RN, MS, CEN, presented the rankings at a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Mason, an ED nurse and immediate past president of the ENA, survived a motorcycle crash because her state requires riders to wear a helmet. ENA put together the scorecard, she said, because “ER nurses don’t want your business.”
ENA President Denise King, RN, MSN, CEN, asks nurses to advocate and get behind safe driving practices. King sees the scorecard as an instrument for passing state legislation and motivating state legislators, policymakers, opinion leaders, and the general public to pass more effective vehicle safety programs and regulations.
For more on the ENA national scorecard, visit www.ena.org/ipinstitute/AutoSafety/scorecard/default.asp.
Pam Meredith, RN, NP, is editorial director of the DC/Maryland/Virginia edition of Nursing Spectrum.
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HOW STATES SCORED
The state score is out of a possible 13 points (1 point for each of 13 evidence-based laws enacted) Scores as of Oct. 20, 2008.
13: Oregon, Washington
11: California, District of Columbia, Maine, Tennessee
10: Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey , New Mexico
9: Alaska, Connecticut, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia
8: Colorado, Hawaii , Louisiana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Vermont, Wisconsin
7: Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, Nevada, Texas
6: Alabama, Florida , Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, Rhode Island , Wyoming
5: Idaho, Minnesota , Ohio
4: North Dakota, South Dakota
Source: 2008 ENA National Scorecard on State Roadway Laws:A Blueprint for Injury Prevention