Doctor’s Note: Thanksgiving Travel Safety Tips from TriStar Centennial’s ER

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Headshot of physician Don Gibson

If your Thanksgiving holiday traditions include a family feast, football and Black Friday, you’re in good company. Many American families will celebrate the upcoming holiday by participating in one or more of those annual rituals, while also reflecting on the blessings of 2015. As an emergency medicine physician with HCA Healthcare’s TriStar Health, I hope that you enjoy your holiday traditions, whatever they may be, without incident or a trip to the ER.

Thanksgiving holiday is the busiest travel period of the year with millions of Americans traveling to their holiday destination by car.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 2.2 million adult drivers and passengers were treated in emergency rooms as the result of being injured in motor vehicle crashes in 2012. I also can attest to the fact that the number of motor vehicle related ER visits spike around the holiday.

Don’t become a statistic. Here are three important traffic safety tips to help you get to your holiday destination safely.

  1. Buckle up. Failure to wear a seatbelt contributes to more traffic fatalities than any other traffic-safety related behavior. Seat belts are the single most effective way to protect you and your loved ones in the event of a crash. It takes two seconds to buckle up. To put it simply, seat belts save lives.
  2. Don’t drink and drive. Drunk driving is not an accident; it’s a crime. Each year, more than 10,000 people are killed in completely preventable alcohol-impaired traffic crashes. Far too many people still don’t understand the consequences of drinking and driving, but those of us in healthcare do. Do us a favor, never drink and drive.
  3. Never drive distracted. Anytime a driver is distracted and takes his eyes off the road or hands off the wheel, it is unsafe. From eating to adjusting the radio to texting – the most alarming distraction of all – distracted driving crashes are preventable. No one should have to enter the emergency room because of a distracted driving incident. Trust us, it can wait!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, and safe travels from our emergency services staff at TriStar Centennial Medical Center.

Dr. Don Gibson is the medical director of emergency services at TriStar Centennial Medical Center in Nashville.

Sources: CDC, Governor’s Highway Safety Administration, NHTSA

About HCA Healthcare

HCA Healthcare, one of the nation's leading providers of healthcare services, is comprised of 183 hospitals and more than 2,300 sites of care, in 20 states and the United Kingdom. Our more than 283,000 colleagues are connected by a single purpose — to give patients healthier tomorrows.

As an enterprise, we recognize the significant responsibility we have as a leading healthcare provider within each of the communities we serve, as well as the opportunity we have to improve the lives of the patients for whom we are entrusted to care. Through the compassion, knowledge and skill of our caregivers, and our ability to leverage our scale and innovative capabilities, HCA Healthcare is in a unique position to play a leading role in the transformation of care.

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