Annoyed before breakfast

Each year, traffic collisions cost about $25 billion in direct and indirect costs across the country, including some $4 billion in Alberta, said [University of Alberta injury researcher Dr. Louis] Francescutti. Reducing speeding—and the number of crashes and severity of injuries as a result—would translate into saved money and a 20 per cent increase in capacity in the health-care system because there would be no more trauma patients, he said.

Grumpy newspaper hyperbole from Lou Francescutti is as distinctive and reliable a feature of Alberta life as the chinook and the pumpjack. Nearly every time he pops up in one of the dailies, the intelligent reader is obliged to conclude, as the passage cited supra forces him to, that the doctor has either been badly misinterpreted or is a nitwit. After a few years of this you lose interest in trying to figure out which.

Motor vehicle accidents are, in fact, responsible for about 20% of trauma-related hospital expenditures. (CIHI’s best, most recent guess is about 17%. Accidental falls are responsible for three or four times as much of the burden of trauma care as car crashes; indeed, wait a few weeks and you will probably find Dr. Francescutti back in the same paper, saying so.) This suggests that if we banned terrestrial motor transport outright, as opposed to making it fractionally safer, we could achieve “a 20% increase in capacity” in some parts of our healthcare system. The enormously overwhelming majority of Canadian healthcare that is permanently devoted to addressing old age, lifestyle-related conditions, childbirth, and the simple consequences of genetics would remain blissfully untouched. I’m sure these are facts of life you all understand instinctively, but I guess not everyone does.

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