The horrible reality of Traumatic Brain Injury (a frequent by-product or road accidents) should help everyone to change mindsets and make South Africa’s roads safer, says Ian Auret, from the Bridgestone Committee for Active Road Safety.
He was responding to a dramatic description of brain injuries by Headway, an organisation which provides care for brain-injured patients in Gauteng. National Traumatic Brain Injury Day is on March 20.
“At CARS we work constantly on bringing awareness of the impact bad road safety can have on thousands of people. More than 30 000 die each year, and over 300 000 are injured; many of these become chronic victims for the rest of their lives,” says Auret.
The Headway statement refers to daily reports and statistics on the road carnage:
“The screeching brakes, the tearing of metal, screaming, unbearable pain. It’s all over in a few seconds, and then a deathly silence for a moment. This is the horror of a motor vehicle accident. The repercussions can last a lifetime. The unfathomable depths of coma follow. This (the traumatic brain injury) can last from a few hours to weeks, months and even years. Upon awakening the person and their families are devastated by the changes that have taken place. The injured person is no longer the same as before the accident.
“Depending on the severity of the injury, it can result in confusion, memory loss and forgetfulness. Survivors may have gaps in knowledge, be unable to follow conversation, or comprehend simple instructions. They may not recognise loved ones, or remember their name. Their judgement may be impaired, and they may become physically aggressive. Many become hypersensitive to noise and light, and become extremely irritable. Physical disability is a possibility and their hearing and eyesight may become impaired. They may also become incontinent. Recovery periods are often long and hard, and injured persons need extensive rehabilitation to regain ordinary life skills.
“The altered personality of the injured person, very often causes loss of friends, and families can drift apart. This alienation is often the cause of severe depression for both the injured person and the family members.
“Some survivors are fortunate to recover and live a productive life, but for most, their lives are altered irrevocably, and they are dependant on others for their most basic needs. Locked up in a dysfunctional body, frustrated by the inability to communicate or fend for themselves.”
Headway is a brain injury support group which offers assistance to the victims of brain injury and their families.
Bridgestone/CARS has a Credo to which its members subscribe. The main aim is to change of mindset of road users toward responsible and safe behaviour, and better enforcement of the law.
The others are to reduce abuse of alcohol and drugs; to increase the use of seatbelts; to curb un-roadworthy vehicles on the roads and reduce deaths and injuries amongst pedestrians.
The Bridgestone/CARS initiative is hosted by the SA Guild of Motoring Journalists and representatives from key organisations such as the Department of Transport, the Automobile Association, the SA Police Services; National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of SA, the Road Traffic Management Committee and the Retail Motor Industry organisation.