Moving Beyond Traditional Healthy Habits

Tuesday, January 10th, 2006
This post was written by Melanie Matthews

I like to think of myself as a person who practices a pretty healthy lifestyle, but this year two of my New Year’s resolutions have extended beyond what many might consider preventive healthcare measures.

An acquaintance of my family was killed on Christmas Eve in a car accident. The family of this 32 year-old woman was, of course, devastated by this tragedy. What makes this far more tragic was that in some ways this was preventable. Word on the street was that the accident was caused by excessive speed and cell phone use.

Here in New Jersey, cell phone use in the car is banned, but it is only a secondary offense. Since it is a secondary offense, it really has not had a huge impact on the number of people who talk on the phone while they drive.

I used to be one of them – but not since January 1, 2006. Granted it’s only been a week, but my resolve is strong. I will not use a cell phone while driving.

My husband who is a police officer comes home from work every day with a story about someone who “blew a red light,” didn’t stop at a stop sign, swerved, or committed some other type of motor vehicle infraction while talking on a cell phone.

My other resolution, driven by this tragedy, is as silly as it sounds “to obey posted speed limits.” I’m always rushing – whether it’s to work, to pick up the kids, to get home, to go wherever. It seems that no matter where I go, I’m always in a hurry to get there. If I don’t say on the way to school in the morning, “Hurry, we’re late,” my children ask “Aren’t we late today?”

It got me to wondering whether health plans and employers probe these two areas when seeking to assess the risk of their population. How about educational materials? Are we paying as much attention to educating our members and our employees on these health risks as we do to heart disease, obesity and other potentially preventable health conditions?

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