- Heat has consequences on the driver´s behaviour similar to that of alcohol intake
Torrevieja / Valencia. July 27, 2018. The August exit operation causes 150,000 injuries per year in Spain due to traffic accidents, with a special impact on young population. In fact, 17% of traffic accidents may be due to excessive temperatures, according to studies conducted by Prevensis, a company specialised in the analysis of driver’s behaviour. When the car temperature reaches 30 ° C, it increases by 20% the risk of making mistakes while driving and reduces the reaction time by 22%.
Experts from the hospitals Quirónsalud Torrevieja and Valencia warn that heat affects the capabilities and behaviour of the driver. According to Dr. Ignacio Garcia, Traffic Unit specialist and assistant to the medical management at Hospital Quirónsalud Valencia, “the excess of temperature that we capture in our body surface is transmitted to an area of our brain, the hypothalamus. This gland, in addition to regulating our body temperature, fulfils other functions as a control of our moods,it modulates sleep and allows the ability to react to certain unexpected circumstances.
The heat excess affects the functions of said gland and is capable of causing failures in driving, which manifest as fatigue, drowsiness, aggression and even diminishes the ability to concentrate and the attention, reducing the reaction times before a certain circumstance.
Dr. Alfredo Pérez Cortada, Traffic Unit specialist at Hospital Quirónsalud Torrevieja warns that, “we should avoid to travel the hottest hours, it is better to do it early in the morning or at the end of the afternoon, but always with daylight. ”
In addition, an interior car temperature between 35 and 40 degrees Celsius is just as dangerous as having drunk five beers. With this heat, the driver stops perceiving between 15 and 20% of traffic signals and their mistakes increase up to 35%.
Whiplash is the main injury caused by traffic accidents
The injuries that can occur in a traffic accident are multiple and varied, mostly low and medium intensity. According to Dr. Juan Costell, Head of Emergency at Hospital Quirónsalud Torrevieja Hospital Quirónsalud Torrevieja, “50% of these injuries occur in the spine by the mechanism of so-called whiplash, followed by dorsal and lumbar injuries that represent 34% of contusions produced at vertebral level “. In addition, “the musculoskeletal and spinal injuries require the involvement and coordination of different specialties that may be needed throughout the recovery process, either by cure or by stabilisation of the injury”. For this reason, the Traffic Unit houses includes a group of medical experts in this area that deals with pain and allows the patient to start recovery and mobility sooner.
Traffic accidents, due to the forces of acceleration and deceleration, can produce acute injuries or complicate pre-existing injuries. The assessment and implementation of an early treatment is essential to minimise the physical consequences that occur in traffic accidents. Dr. Costell states that “from the medical point of view, it is important that each patient involved in a traffic accident goes to an urgent medical assessment, whatever the seriousness of their injuries is.” It is advisable to go to a specialised Traffic Unit that includes the first emergency visit, hospitalisation, diagnostic tests (CT, magnetic resonance, ultrasound or laboratory), consultations with specialists, rehabilitation treatment, intensive care and, if necessary, urgent surgery. In addition, the traffic units of the hospitals Quirónsalud Torrevieja and Valencia advise patients about their right to personalised attention for a complete rehabilitation, perform the relevant procedures with the insurance company and manage all medical reports for an adequate treatment.
Tips for safe driving
- Sufficient rest: do not start the trip if you have not rested properly. It is also recommended to take a break every hour and a half to stretch. Stop as soon as you feel tired.
- Eat light meals and do not drink any type of alcoholic beverage, including low alcohol.
- Wheel right position: the legs should be slightly flexed and the backrest adjusted for the wrists to reach the top of the steering wheel.
- Use comfortable and loose clothing as well as adequate footwear.