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Studying Abroad Comes With Risks: Road Fatalities

Road Fatalities while studying abroad - Reyes Law - Dallas TexasShannon Marie Nuth, just shy of her 25th birthday this past June, was returning to Antigua after spending the weekend near Lake Atitlán, Guatemala.

The bus she was riding in went out of control, flipped several times and crashed.

“She was thrown from the vehicle and killed instantly,” Joseph Nuth said of his daughter, who had been studying Spanish at a nonuniversity program to help with her volunteer work at home in Prince George’s County, Md.

This unfortunate accident comes as a stark reminder that overseas travel comes with risks.

Ms. Nuth fell victim to a danger that American students may not recognize in advance: the risk of being killed in a road crash still exists while studying abroad.

More than 300,000 American students study abroad each school year, according to NAFSA: Association of International Educators. Study abroad industry leaders () claim that students at American colleges are more than twice as likely to die on their home campuses than while abroad.

However, as the number of American students who study abroad continues to grow — particularly in less-developed regions where traffic fatalities are most prevalent — academic and safety specialists worry that the road-death toll will rise, unless students and sponsors of overseas study programs understand the dangers and guard against the risks.

A study by the John Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy found the leading cause of non-natural deaths in US travelers abroad is road crashes with Southeast Asia having the highest rates of deaths from motorcycle crashes.

 

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Road fatalities are a risk for young people everywhere. They are the leading cause of death for teens and young adults in the United States and worldwide, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization show. But the concern for educators is that students heading abroad may not consider some uniquely local risks of road travel — particularly in low- and middle-income countries, where W.H.O. figures indicate about 90 percent of the globe’s road-traffic deaths occur.

“Travelers may know that the environment may be different in foreign countries, but they do not realize how different,” said Will Cocks, of the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs.

Rochelle Sobel, founder of the Association for Safe International Road Travel, said that while most students have positive experiences abroad, many deaths could be prevented. Her group supports the pending legislation and is advocating that the State Department collect information about injuries, ages of victims and specific collision locations.

Reyes | Browne | Reilley is a Dallas, Texas, based Martindale-Hubbell AV-Rated personal injury law firm, and applauds the efforts behind educating students before international travel. Our Dallas personal injury lawyers have a nearly combined 100 years experience representing plaintiffs in personal injury, business, and dangerous prescription drug & device litigation. Call us today for a free consult to find out more.

Thanks to: The New York Times

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