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Road Accidents as a Health Issue in Australia Essay

Exploration and Analysis of a Health Issue Affecting Australian Population

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Introduction
Australia, just like other countries in the world, faces various health issues that are widely spread all over the country. The country has to come up with initiatives on how to improve the current Public Health Care services to address these health issues. Accident is one of the several pertinent health issues currently affecting Australia. Particularly road traffic accidents are on the record for causing massive deaths in Australia. W.H.O ranks Australia at number 162 world wide contributing to 1.29% of total death resulting from road accidents in the country (W.H.O, 2005). This essay explores analysis and discusses the issue of road accidents and how it impacts the Australian population and the proposed initiatives to address it. Analysis of the affected population/community

Road accident has claimed many lives and caused severe injuries in Australia in the recent past. World Health Organization has put road accidents at position two in the most significant cause of death for 10 to 46 year oldies. The death toll resulting from road carnage has been on the rise in the recent years (National Health Survey, 2006). The Australian Transport Safety Bureau released a report indicating 1465 deaths resulting from road accidents in Australia in 2006, 1603 in 2007 and 1464 deaths in 2008 as shown in the table.

| |2006 |2007 |2008 | |No. Of Accidents |1456 |1453 |1342 | |Deaths |1601 |1603 |1464 |

The graph below shows the summary of the number of accidents and deaths from
2006 to 2008. [pic]
In the year 2005-2006, 18623 persons were involved in the tragic road accidents where most of them died while others escaped with minor and severe injuries. A survey conducted in the year 2006 showed that persons between the ages of 15-24 years experienced a higher rate of injury as a result of road accidents as compared to 35 years old and above (A.B.S, 2010). 1601 people were killed in 2006, (Transport Safety Bureau, 2007). This implies that over 130 people lose their lives in crashes every month. 22,500 people escaped death with serious injuries. The number of accidents in Australia has been consistent for the past 3 years and suspected to be higher than in Europe (car-accidents.com).

Number of accidents per region in 2007 and 2008 (A.B.S, 2010). |NSW |Vic. |Qld |SA |WA |Tas. |NT |ACT |TOTAL | |2007 |405 |289 |338 |107 |214 |39 |47 |14 |1 453 | |2008 |376 |278 |293 |87 |189 |38 |67 |14 |1 342 | |

Number of deaths caused by road accidents by regions in 2007 and 2008 (A.B.S, 2010). |NSW |Vic. |Qld |SA |WA |Tas. |NT |ACT |TOTAL | |2007 |435 |332 |360 |124 |235 |45 |58 |14 |1 603 | |2008 |397 |303 |327 |99 |209 |40 |75 |14 |1 464 | |NSW- New South Wales Vic -Victoria

Qld -Queensland
SA -Southern Australia
WA-Western Australia
Tas- Tasmania
NT-Northern Territory
ACT- Australian Capital territory

Determinants influencing the health issue of road traffic accidents

Many factors contribute to deaths from road accidents among them drunk driving, over speeding, unroadworthy vehicles and careless driving. The motorists and passengers have been on the record for violating the laid down traffic regulations. For instance, seat belts are installed in all passenger vehicles for a purpose. Many passengers are aware of this and yet they go around ignoring their importance (Gozias, 2007). Drunk driving is another crucial factor contributing to the high rate of road accidents in Australia. To curb these incidences, the drivers must change their mindsets and the way of thinking. Many truck drivers believe that they are most armed and cautious while drunk (Worley, 2006). The health authorities concerned with PHC can address this aspect through initiating and running public education and awareness programs.

Driver’s attention is extremely crucial in safe driving. Research shows that driver’s attention and concentration are affected by distraction for instance, using a mobile phone while driving. Music playing in the car stereo plays a significant part in the mental and physical attention. These incidences can be avoidable if only the drivers and the passengers are responsible enough. Passengers should not just sit calm while the vehicle is driven around carelessly or under the influence of alcohol. Collective responsibility from the passengers, drivers, traffic departments and pedestrians can go a long way in saving innocent lives (Major Causes Of Fatal Road Accidents, 2010). Studies show that most determinants of road accidents are at the individual levels, for instance, how an individual’s income influences his or her driving behavior. A population’s income status in an important issue in Primary Health Care. Different individuals respond differently to different instances, situations, laws and forms of enforcement. Different drivers have different capabilities, visual acuity, auditory acuity and different response speeds. Another factor that may contribute to road accident is the other road users other than the drivers. These include walking pedestrians, cyclists and physically challenged road users.

A report based on Australian accidents data found driver errors, drunk driving, and other human factors contribute to 90% of all accidents. The authorities have are answerable in most accidents involving pedestrians. For instance, there are few separate tracks and pathways for walking pedestrians and those on wheelchairs (Major Causes Of Fatal Road Accidents, 2010). The social status, age and gender are significant social determinants for road crashes. A Danish National Travel Survey conducted in 2001 showed that driving speed decreases with the driver’s age. Youthful drivers have a passion for high speed where they deduce a lot of fun while at higher speeds. Elderly drivers have been noted to drive at relatively lower speeds (Fosgerau, 2005).

Over speeding is a prime cause of road accidents in Australia. Men have been observed to drive faster than women while the unmarried drivers drive slightly slower than the married individuals. Driving too fast or slightly above the posted limit contributes to about 40% of road accidents in Australia. The chances and severity of a road crash is influenced by the driving speed (NSW Road and Traffic Authority, 2007). Fosgerau argues that an individual’s income has positive and highly statistically significant influence on the driving speed. A driver with higher income will tend to drive at higher speeds than drivers with lower incomes. Higher income decreases the value or real costs of fines and other speed related user costs while it increases the perceived value of time (Fosgerau, 2005). Implications of the health issue to the affected population The main effects and implications of road accidents are medical, legal, social and economic. Family and society dynamics are altered after the demise of a relative. If a family’s breadwinner passes away, the whole family is severely affected and may take forever to recover. The family’s income goes down lowering the living standards and quality of life. Death brings about grief, devastation and emotional problem where one cannot come to term with the departure of a loved one (Worley, 2006).

Huge medical resources are utilized in caring and treating the accident casualties. These resources are used at the expense of caring for patients suffering from other illnesses. Some accident victims fail to recover fully from injuries sustained being left with a permanent disability. Injuries to the musculoskeletal system may lead to restriction of movement to the victim. A survivor’s life may be filled with persistence pain and psychological sequelae. These disabilities result into neurological deficits like hemiplegia, paraplegia or tetraplegia (Khalaf AI Moutaery, 1998). There are immense and serious economical implications of road accidents in Australia. A lot of money is spent on accident victims every year. Many victims lose their jobs due to long sick leaves (Bishai, 2006). This negatively impacts the country’s economic growth and development. First, there is the decrease in national income when a taxpayer dies and secondly, a significant amount of money is set aside to cater for accident victims. An estimate by World Bank show that injuries sustained from road accidents cost 1% to 2% of the GNP of the country (World Health Organization, 2005).

There are legal implications of road accidents among them prosecution for drunk driving, man slaughter and even murder. The penalty for drunk driving may be imprisonment, loss of license and fines (Road Traffic Accidents in Australia, 2012). Conclusion

In conclusion, we have seen how any why road traffic accident is a serious health issue and how it is affecting the Australian population. Road accidents and resulting deaths have been explored and analyzed in this essay. Several physical, environmental and social determinants of road accidents among them individual’s age, income, mental status among others have been discussed in this essay. There are current primary health care services that are put into place to address this issue of road traffic accidents. However, these PHC services need some advancements and improvements in order to address the issue more effectively. The next assignment will focus on the existing PHC services including their strengths and weaknesses and the various proposals and initiatives that should be taken to address this persistent issue health issue of road traffic accidents in Australia.

References

A.B.S. (2010, 06 04). Accidents, Injuries And Fatalities. Retrieved August 16, 2012, from abs: http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Lookup/D18CA4EA930FF0D2CA25773700169CE5.htm.

Bishai, D. A. (2006). National Road Casualties and Economic Development. Health Economics, 65-81.

Country Health Profile-Australia. (n.d.). Retrieved 08 15, 2012, from worldlifeexpectancy.com: http://www.worldlifeexpectancy.com/country-health-profile/australia

Duckett, S. (2011). Australian Health Care System. Oxford University Press: Australia.

Fosgerau, M. (2005). Speed and Income. Journal of Transport Economics and Policy, Vol. 39( No 2), 225-240.

Gozias, J. M. (2007). An Analysis of Factors Affecting Road Safety: The Greek Experience. Journal of Transportation Geography, 325-316.

Khalaf AI Moutaery, F. A. (1998, October). Implication Of Road Accidents. Retrieved August 17, 2012, from Pan Arab Neurosurgery : http://panarabneurosurgery.org.sa/journal/oct1998/ImplicationOfRoadAccidents.htm

Major Causes Of Fatal Road Accidents. (2010, 11 12). Retrieved August 17, 2012, from Study mode: Major Causes of Fatal Road Accidents. (2010, November 12). StudyMode.com. Retrieved from http://www.studymode.com/essays/Major-Causes-Of-Fatal-Road-Accidents-474289.html

McKenzie, J.F, Pinger, R.R. (2012). An introduction to Community Health. 7th ed. Jones and Barlett Publishers: Sudbury.
Road Traffic Accidents in Australia. (2012). Retrieved August 16, 2012, from Australia Angloinfo: http://australia.angloinfo.com/transport/driving/Road Traffic Accidents in Australia _ Australia.htm

Sasser, S., Vargheses, M., Kellermann, A., Lormand, J.D. (2005). Pre-hospital Trauma care

Systems. World Health Organization: Geneva.

Schneider, M.J. (2011). An introduction to public health. Jones and Barlett Publishers: Sudbury. W.H.O. (2005). World report on road traffic injury prevention. World Health Organization: Geneva.

Worley, H. (2006, March). Road Traffic Accidents Increase Dramatically. Retrieved August 15, 2012, from Population Reference Bureau :


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