More Americans Are Now Dying By Accident, Says Statistics

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A report recently released by the National Safety Council shows that more than 136,000 people in the USA died accidentally in 2014. This is the highest recorded number, which is an increase of 4.2% from 2013 and 15.5% higher than ten years ago, reports NPR.

The reason behind the sharp increase is not the usually suspected vehicular accident, but fatal overdoses and common falls. The higher accidental death count is largely in part due to opioid and heroin use.

The NSC report says the leading causes of accidental deaths in the USA are now drug overdoses and accidental poisoning, killing over 42,000 people in 2014. This is four times the number of deaths by poison in 1998.

Vehicular crashes, on the other hand, killed 35,398 people in 2014, down 22% than a decade ago and an extreme drop from 53,000 deaths in 1980. The reason for this dramatic drop can be attributed to safer cars, improved safety technology and changes in licensing requirements for teenagers, according to experts.

“Far fewer teenagers and young adults are dying on the roads than they were in 1981,” Ken Kolosch, statistics manager for the NSC says. He does note that driving under the influence of alcohol, speeding and not wearing seatbelts remain constant issues that cause some 10,000 fatalities a year.

Now, distracted driving due to the use of cellphones and other electronic gadgets is becoming a problem too, though Kolosch says there is not much evidence on how distracted driving contributes to vehicular accidents.

“Distraction related crashes are very under-reported,” Kolosch says. “It’s very difficult for police officers at the time of a crash investigation to get accurate information about the level of distraction at the time of the crash.”

In addition, the number of deaths caused by falls such as slipping on floors has also seen an increase, from less than 10,000 deaths in 1992 to some 32,000 in 2014. Experts determine this is because of an aging baby boom population and that people are living much longer now. “We have more older adults who are at much greater risk for falls,” Kolosch says.

He also adds that, “Every individual has the opportunity to make choices to keep themselves safe,” such as practicing safe driving and avoiding distractions, installing better flooring or rails and so on. But he also points out that governments and citizens can do plenty to reduce these death rates, too, such as enforcing seat belt laws or monitoring pain medication prescriptions.

“It’s all preventable. Every accident is preventable,” Kolosch says.

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