FGH Trauma Director urges drivers to be careful this summer

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Right now, we are in what AAA calls the "100 Deadliest Days", especially for teen drivers enjoying summer vacation.

"The number of fatal crashes involving teen drivers during the summer is an important traffic safety concern and research shows that young drivers are at greater risk and have higher crash rates compared to older and more experienced drivers," said Dr. David Yang, AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety executive director.

"I would agree, 100 deadly days of summer, between Memorial Day and Labor Day, it's our busiest trauma volume," said Dr. Duncan Donald.

Donald is the Trauma Medical Director at Forrest General Hospital. He said June, July and August are busy at the Level II Trauma Center in Hattiesburg.

"In the summertime especially, we seem to see a lot more traumatic injuries as people are more active and spending more time outdoors, on vacation," said Donald.

The Level II trauma center is one of three in the state. According to the Mississippi Department of Health, that means FGH has the commitment, resources and specialty training necessary to provide sophisticated trauma care.

"We've got a whole team of people waiting on their arrival," said Dr. Duncan. "Our mortality rate since year 2000 has dropped from six percent to just over two percent, so there's been a lot of lives saved over the last 18 years or so."

According to AAA, more than 1,050 people were killed in crashes involving a teen driver in 2016 during the 100 Deadliest Days, the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day. That is an average of 10 people per day, a 14 percent increase compared to the rest of the year, according to data analyzed by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Nighttime driving and speeding played a big role in those crashes, but Donald also has concerns with distracted driving.

"When you see young people who are obviously on their cell phone and driving down the road and you wonder, is that the person I am going to see later today," said Donald.

In the last week, we've reported three deadly wrecks in the Pine Belt. In two incidents, men were killed on Highway 49 and I-59, both from out-of-state.  A third man, a teenager, was killed in a dirt bike accident in Jasper County.

"Practice safe driving, obey speed limits, wear your seat belts and certainly don't do anything on your cell phone. Don't text and drive, post and drive, do social media, stay away from that," said Donald. "If you do have a crash, we are here to help out."