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June 12, 2015

How Safe is Your State? NSC Releases Top 10 List of Accidental Death Rates

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As part of National Safety Month, the National Safety Council has released its annual list of states with the highest and lowest rates of injury-related deaths, which include poisonings, vehicle accidents and falls.

West Virginia has the highest rate for the third time in four years. The state’s rate of 77.2 deaths per 100,000 people is largely fueled by overdoses from opioid prescription painkillers. For the second straight year, Maryland has the lowest rate at 26.9, which is far below the national rate of 40.6.

“Someone dies every four minutes in the United States due to an unintentional injury,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “The top states are the best-in-class at addressing these preventable deaths, but they've also created a blueprint so other states may address the issues that threaten longevity.”

Death Causes Vary by Age

Unintentional injury deaths have overtaken strokes as the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. The leading causes of accidental death by age groups are:
  • Age 5-24: Car crashes
  • Age 25-64: Poisoning (largely from opioid painkillers)
  • Age 65+: Falls


Factors Influencing Accidental Deaths

Various factors influence a state’s accidental death rate, including demographics and population density. However, some states with low rates have taken actions that can help reduce their numbers of preventable deaths, such as strengthening prescription drug monitoring programs and passing stronger laws about teen and distracted driving.

States with the 10 highest accidental death rates:

  1.     West Virginia (77.2)
  2.     New Mexico (64.3)
  3.     Montana (61.0)
  4.     Oklahoma (59.7)
  5.     Kentucky (59.7)
  6.     Mississippi (57.9)
  7.     Wyoming (55.9)
  8.     Alabama (55.4)
  9.     Tennessee (54.5)
  10.     Alaska (53.2)

States with the 10 lowest rates:

  1.     Maryland (26.9)
  2.     New York (28.4)
  3.     California (28.7)
  4.     District of Columbia (29.9)
  5.     New Jersey (30.4)
  6.     Illinois (32.4)
  7.     Massachusetts (33.7)
  8.     Virginia (34.7)
  9.     Texas (36.7)
  10.     Nebraska (36.8)

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