Staying healthy in your car: Equipment and precautions

A kid and his wagon, a boy and his bike, a man and his car. At every stage of life, there seems to be a special romance between a male and his wheels. Perhaps scientists should investigate the Y chromosome, which separates men from women, for a vehicular gene. Even without a gene, though, it's easy to see how a set of wheels provides the independence, mobility, and self-esteem that most American men prize.

While driving has a special meaning at each stage of life, it also has special hazards. The risk is greatest for young men just learning to drive and control their impulses and for older men coping with slowed reflexes or medical problems. Few people think of driving as a medical issue, but they should: Car crashes are a major cause of injury and death, and many can be prevented.

The toll

An American man is nearly two and a half times more likely to die in an accident than a female. In all, accidents are the third leading cause of death in men — and motor vehicle accidents account for about 43,000 deaths in the United States each year. Add the countless injuries, and you'll see that motor vehicle safety is a medical concern.

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