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Vehicle crashes and opioid overdoses drive accidental injury to No. 3 cause of death.

Byline: Jayleen R. Heft, PropertyCasualty360.com

Unintentional, preventable injuries claimed a record high 161,374 lives in 2016 to become the third leading cause of death in the United States for the first time in recorded history, according to National Safety Council data analysis.

A total of 14,803 more people died accidentally in 2016 than in 2015 -- a 10% year-over-year increase.

It's the largest single-year percent rise since 1936, and the largest two-year rise (+18.6%) since 1903, according to the National Safety Council.

An American is accidently killed every 3 minutes

Based on this new data, an American is accidentally injured every second and killed every three minutes by a preventable event -- a drug overdose, a motor vehicle crash, a fall, a drowning, a choking incident or another preventable incident.

Preventable deaths have been rising since 2009 after years of declines and plateaus, and they trail only heart disease and cancer when it comes to the number of lives lost annually. Unlike other causes of death, preventable injuries are a threat at every age.

"Our complacency results in 442 deaths each day," said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. "For years our country has accepted unintentional injuries as an unavoidable reality. The truth is, there is no such thing as an accident. Every single one of these deaths was preventable. We know what to do to save lives, but collectively we have failed to prioritize safety at work, at home and on the road."

Preventable death trails heart disease, cancer

Preventable deaths have been rising since 2009 after years of declines and plateaus, and they trail only heart disease and cancer when it comes to the number of lives lost annually. Unlike other causes of death, preventable injuries are a threat at every age.

In spite of the current increase in deaths, Americans are still safer than in the early 1900's. In 1903, the accidental standardized death rate was 99.4 per 100,000 population -- twice as high as the current death rate of 47.2. However, the current death rate is 39% higher than the lowest recorded rate, 34%, achieved in 1992.

Campaigns to reduce risks

The National Safety Council has launched various initiatives to educate Americans about how they can reduce their own risks. Recent efforts and resources include:

* The Road to Zero coalition -- a joint effort with the U.S. Department of Transportation -- is working to end all roadway fatalities by 2050. Visit nsc.org/roadtozero for more.

* The Stop Everyday Killers campaign puts a face on the opioid epidemic through film, digital assets and a traveling memorial exhibit. Visit stopeverydaykillers.org for more information.

* The State of Safety report provides a roadmap for states to better protect residents. According to the report, no state receives an "A" -- and 11 states are failing. Visit nsc.org/stateofsafety for more.

Related: 5 reasons why auto accidents are on the rise

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Publication:Property and Casualty 360
Date:Jan 18, 2018
Words:490
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