March 22, 2019
Accidents: Don\

Accidents: Don't Be a Statistic

by Berkeley Wellness  

For almost 100 years, the National Safety Council (NSC) has been keeping count of deaths from unintentional injuries (commonly called accidents) that occur annually in the U.S., to reveal the “most significant safety threats facing Americans today.” According to this year’s report, released in May, these types of preventable deaths are at an all-time high, driven, sadly, by the drug-overdose epidemic.

All in all, accidents kill more people every year than strokes, diabetes, or Alzheimer’s disease. Here are some of the more notable findings, based on the most current data:

  • There were 146,571 accidental deaths in the U.S. in 2015, up from 136,053 in 2014. The No.1 cause was unintentional poisoning, which has been on a steep rise, due primarily to prescription opioids, followed by heroin and benzodiazepines (for anxiety and insomnia). Next up were motor vehicles (generally on the decline this past decade, but with an uptick in recent years) and falls (on the rise, most occurring in people 75 and older).
  • Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among 15- to 20-year-olds. In 2015, alcohol led to 10,265 motor vehicle fatalities, while speeding caused 9,557. On the rise is distracted driving, which contributed to 3,477 fatalities that year.
  • The lifetime odds of an American dying are 1 in 96 from unintentional poisoning (including drug overdoses), 1 in 114 in a motor vehicle crash, 1 in 127 from falling, 1 in 1,188 from drowning, 1 in 1,498 from fire or smoke, 1 in 3,461 from choking, 1 in 6,905 from unintentional discharge of a firearm (but much higher—1 in 370—from firearms overall), and 1 in 9,821 in a flight accident (mostly from small or private aircraft).

Here are other leading causes of accidents—some more surprising than others—which collectively account for several million annual visits to the emergency room: Floors or flooring materials (1,792,878 visits), stairs (1,195,154), ceilings and walls (363,500), knives (334,780), footwear (203,374), and sofas (195,814). Television tables/stands accounted for 13,595 visits; baby changing tables, 3,951 visits; and pool/billiard tables, 3,299 visits.

There were 4,190 fatal unintentional work injuries in 2015. Many work injuries are likely due to inadequate sleep, other research has found.

The cost of preventable injuries to society was $886 billion in 2015, or $2,800 per person. The National Safety Council provides a wealth of safety information on its website, including how to prevent fatalities from painkillers.

Also see Avoid These Freaky Accidents.