Science presents actual facts and connects dots you might never have noticed before. Suppose, for instance, that traffic accidents are associated with people not getting vaccinated against COVID-19? A recent study published in The American Journal of Medicine explores the science behind such a link. Canadian researchers analyzed over 11 million COVID-19 vaccination records of individuals over the age of 18, from different social, economic, and health backgrounds. 16 percent (1,760,000) of those 11 million were not vaccinated.
The researchers then examined records to identify unvaccinated individuals who might have diseases associated with traffic risks, such as dementia, diabetes, sleep apnea, and alcohol abuse – and then examined accidents. In addition to emergency room visits and times, ambulance involvement, and a “triage severity score,” researchers were able to determine that individuals who had not received the COVID-19 vaccine had a significantly higher risk of traffic accidents. Vaccination, however, did not cause it. It comes down to decisions related to getting vaccinated, and obeying (or not obeying) traffic laws.
This isn’t to say that if you don’t get a shot, you’ll get into or cause a traffic accident. That’s not how the correlation works. According to researchers, individuals who were unwilling or hesitant to “protect themselves” with the vaccine were more likely to disregard traffic laws. The data support it. Unvaccinated drivers had a 72 percent higher risk of major car accidents. It looks grim when the study points out that the percentage is “similar to the relative risk associated with sleep apnea,” but is not as severe as those who abuse alcohol. But the risk still exists, so much so that the study concluded that the risk “exceeds the safety gains of modern automobile engineering advances and also imposes risks to other road users.”
The study did acknowledge that “correlation does not imply causality.” The study didn’t explore whether or not driving recklessly was linked to not getting the vaccine. However, the authors of the study speculated. Vaccination preferences and traffic risks may be linked to distrust of the government or a belief in freedom. Insufficient resources, exposure to misinformation, misconceptions about everyday risks, and faith in natural protection may all be contributing factors. Misgivings around public health guidelines may be caused by political identity, negative past experiences, limited health literacy, or social networks. These subjective unknowns remain topics for future investigation.