The Itineraries column in today’s NY Times stresses the importance of road deaths during international travel. While students are the focus of the piece, “Study-Abroad Programs Address a Risk: Road Fatalities”, travel health nurses know motor vehicle accidents (MVAs) are the #1 cause of morbidity and mortality in healthy travelers. We also know that other, less prevalent travel risks frequently get far more attention in the media and during the pre-travel consultation. For example, TV ads in many communities are currently flooding the airwaves about vaccinations for two diseases rarely seen in our travelers (Meningitis B, cholera).
Today’s article is a good reminder about the much more prevalent non-vaccine preventable health and safety risks, including road deaths. Tanya Mohn, author of the piece, reminds travelers and clinicians alike that every pre-travel encounter should stress MVA risk and prevention. She notes that student travel is increasing and with it the likelihood that student road deaths will also increase. Prevention education is critical and the article includes a very worthwhile side piece on “Tips for Avoiding Traffic Crashes Abroad.” The State Department Safe Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is mentioned as a resource as is insuremytrip.com, the Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT), and a new website for families ProtectStudentsAbroad. We all know travel health is so much more than “shots only.” Read this article and then share it with every traveler.
Gail Rosselot NP, MPH, COHN-S, FFTM, RCPS (Glas), FAANP
Certificate in Travel Health (r)
Director, Travel Well of Westchester, Inc and The Westchester Course