The Facts Hurt

Injuries are the third leading cause of death nationally, and the leading cause of death for Americans between the ages of 1 and 44. 

This report by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation concludes that millions of injuries could be prevented each year if more states adopted additional research-based injury prevention policies, and if programs were fully implemented and enforced.

Twenty-one states scored a five or lower on a set of 10 key indicators of steps states can take to prevent injuries. Two states, California and New York, received the highest score of nine out of a possible 10, while Montana scored the lowest with two out of 10. (Scores were revised January 3, 2013 to reflect changes in seven state laws.)

Overall, New Mexico has the highest rate of injury-related deaths in the United States, at a rate of 97.8 per 100,000 people, while New Jersey has the lowest rate at 36.1 per 100,000.  Overall, the national rate is 57.9 per 100,000 Americans who die in injury-related fatalities.

The authors worked with top injury prevention experts from the Safe States Alliance and the Society for the Advancement of Violence and Injury Prevention (SAVIR) to develop a set of indicators of leading evidence-based strategies that have been shown to reduce injuries and save lives. 

Key Findings:

  • Twenty-nine states do not require bicycle helmets for all children.
  • Seventeen states do not require that children ride in a car seat or booster seat to at least the age of eight.
  • Thirty-one states do not require helmets for all motorcycle riders.
  • Thirty-three states and Washington, D.C. do not require mandatory ignition interlocks for convicted drunk drivers.
  • Eighteen states do not have primary seat belt laws.

The report also identifies a set of emerging new injury threats, including rises in prescription drug abuse, concussions in school sports, bullying, crashes from texting while driving, and an expected increase in the number in falls as the Baby Boomer generation ages.