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UNLV School of Medicine Awarded Grant to Continue Study on Vehicular Injuries

Researchers in UNLV's Department of Surgery continue work on statewide database to quantify human and economic costs of vehicular injuries -- and to identify prevention opportunities.
Research  |  Dec 6, 2017  |  By Paul Joncich
Media Contact: Paul Joncich, UNLV School of Medicine: (702) 895-1696,
UNLV School of Medicine

UNLV School of Medicine researchers earn grant to continue study on vehicular injuries in Nevada. (UNLV Creative Services)

The UNLV School of Medicine Department of Surgery was recently awarded a grant from the Nevada Department of Public Safety to continue its work towards understanding and preventing traffic-related injuries and fatalities in Nevada.

Dr. Deborah Kuhls, professor of surgery, and co-investigator Laura Gryder used previous grant funding to create a comprehensive database from 2005-2015 Nevada Department of Transportation crash data and related information from trauma centers statewide.

The recent $235,000 grant will allow researchers to continue their work, which includes introducing and analyzing data from the past two years and evaluating current pedestrian safety education efforts.

“This data allows us to examine crashes and risk-taking behaviors in relation to hard medical costs and outcomes, and it also contributes needed background to support safety related legislation,” said Dr. Kuhls.

According to researchers, deaths and injuries from vehicle-related crashes have risen steadily in Nevada since 2009. Among the project’s findings to date:

  • The highest percentage of traffic fatalities for those admitted to a Nevada trauma center between 2005-2015 were from pedestrian crashes (7.5 percent), followed by motorcycle crashes (4.3 percent) and motor vehicle crashes (2.6 percent).
  • Analysis from the database shows rear-seated teen passengers are 70 percent more likely to not wear a seatbelt than those in the front seat. After a crash, they have higher accrued hospital charges, spend more days in the hospital, and more days in the ICU than those wearing seatbelts.
  • Crash-trauma data from 2012-2014 reveals that average hospital charges for a moped crash are $8,120 more for riders who don’t wear helmets compared to helmeted riders. Injuries to the extremities and to the head and neck are most common. Moped riders in Nevada are not currently required to wear a helmet.
  • Approximately 30 percent of pedestrian crash patients brought to a Nevada trauma center were crossing the street improperly. They spent more days in the hospital and accrued significantly higher median hospital costs ($113,475 vs. $52,727) compared to pedestrians who were injured while crossing properly.

“By conducting this research, we can continue to provide essential information to legislative, community, and state organizations,” Gryder said. “We can use the data to develop the most appropriate, targeted injury prevention interventions to make the largest possible impact on the lives of citizens of our state.”