Tune Your Immune System

There is one type of immunity that LILY thinks is really bad for you.

Human beings are very adaptable creatures, aren’t we? We tend to assimilate frequent, repetitive incidents as part of our lives and so become ‘immune’ to it. How many of us realise that we are actually ‘immune’ towards road accidents as well? I know what you’re thinking now – ‘This writer is writing nonsense!’ – but bear with me.

How often have you experienced a traffic jam which was caused by the busybodies slowing down their vehicles to observe a road accident, and not because of any real traffic obstruction? I’m not guilt-free in this regard either – my head automatically turns to the side as I drive past, to examine the wreckage. In my defense (and probably yours as well), that’s human instinct.

Unless you live under a shell, you, I and everyone else have probably witnessed countless road accidents, yet many drivers do not bother to put on their safety belts (passengers as well), zigzag carelessly through traffic and exceed speed limits even in dangerous zones! This is not surprising at all, I fear. At the moment of witnessing a road accident, the observer experiences a momentary, internal impact. But this passes quickly and the observer only becomes even more ‘immune’ to such incidents, hence, continue driving hazardously.

The only ‘pathogen’ that can fight this ‘immunity’ is a policeman or traffic camera. Upon noticing these two pathogens, the driver’s immune system is triggered and he will immediately buckle up or slow down.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that Thailand holds the world’s third ranking for road fatalities, with 38.1 fatalities for every 100 000 inhabitants in the year 2010, trailing behind Eritrea (48.4) and Libya (40.5). Thailand’s population in 2010 is 63 878 000, which means that in that year, there was an estimated 24 338 road fatalities.

This is not an in-depth research into road fatalities in the Kingdom, but let’s make some very vague deductions from WHO’s 2013 Safety Campaign report. According to the report, for every person who died in a road accident, 20 others are injured; from the 20 injured, one is left disabled. A simple calculation deduces that 486 760 were injured in road accidents in Thailand in 2010 (not including road accidents that did not lead to injury or death) and at the same time, 24 338 people become disabled as a result.
Again, by simple computation of total road fatalities and population, the death rate from road accidents is 0.00038, which is only a sliver compared to the fertility rate of 1.66. Okay, so maybe we need not fear human extinction due to road accidents (the fertility rate is calculated based on childbearing women and not the entire population, so maybe this comparison is moot.)

But wait a minute. Even though such fatalities will not cause the end of mankind, it is quite a serious cause of death. According to the World Life Expectancy’s record, Road Traffic Accidents is the world’s number 10 cause of death after Coronary Heart Disease, Stroke, Influenza & Pneumonia, Lung Disease, Diarrhoeal diseases, HIV/AIDS, Lung Cancers, Tuberculosis and Diabetes!

Most of us will take the trouble to get vaccinations. We’re in and out of the gym. We count calories, and refrain from saturated fats, high cholesterol, sugary and salty foods; some even go to the extent of avoiding shellfish to avoid Hepatitis B (by the way, Hepatitis B ranks 52 in the same list). We do all that, but how many neglect the simple act of putting on the seat belt before starting the car? How many of us abide by speed limits? How many of us will not drink-and-drive? How ironic would it be to live a healthy lifestyle to ensure a longer life, only to meet our end because of such trivialities.

Reflect on this: consider the number of road accidents that you have witnessed versus coming face-to-face with the aforementioned killer diseases in people around you. I bet that the former far surpasses the latter. And yet, crossing paths with potentially terminal illnesses actually makes us think twice about our mortality, yet road accidents don’t? Blame it on our ‘immunity’ towards road accidents.

Therefore, if you think that the world’s population is too high, resources are scarce and the environment is threatened by human activities, then continue to be immune and encourage others to get the same immunisation. Come to think of it, we can reduce many problems of the world if there are less people in it. However, if you disagree, then buckle up your seat belt, ensure absolute control of your vehicle and tell the person next to you to do the same thing!

image: thefreedictionary.com

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