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How dangerous is your state?

By Jay MacDonald ·
Friday, July 6, 2012
Posted: 10 am ET

Do you live in a dangerous state?

The thought may never have crossed your mind. Most of us tend to associate danger with rough neighborhoods, treacherous traffic and icy mountain passes, not borders on a map.

But a new report, "Facts Hurt: A State-By-State Injury Prevention Policy Report," published by the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, attempts to change our shortsighted view of locality and mortality.

Injuries that result from accidents or violence are the third leading cause of death nationally and the No. 1 killer among the 1-to-44 age group. Each year, 50 million Americans are treated and 2.5 million hospitalized for injuries. Among children and teens, 9.2 million are treated in emergency rooms, and 12,000 die in accidents each year.

State safety laws play a key role in keeping us safe. They range from mandatory seat belts, motorcycle/bicycle helmets and child safety seats to statutes aimed at curbing drunk driving, prescription drug abuse, domestic violence, date assaults, school sports concussions, teen bullying and texting while driving. Collectively, they have an impact on health insurance, homeowners insurance and auto insurance rates.

The "Facts Hurt" partners, along with state safety officials, developed a set of 10 indicators to measure which states are doing the most to keep us safe. The results:

  • New York and California registered the highest score of 9 out of 10.
  • Maryland, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island and Washington scored 8 out of 10.
  • Nearly half the states (24) scored 5 out of 10 or lower.
  • Montana and Ohio scored the lowest at 2 out of 10.

Per capita, the western states of New Mexico, Montana, Alaska and Wyoming remain the most dangerous, while New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts and California rank as safest.

As for the uphill climb ahead to save more lives, the report found that:

  • 29 states do not require bicycle helmets for all children.
  • 17 states do not require child or booster seats to age 8.
  • 31 states do not require helmets for all motorcycle riders.
  • 34 states and Washington, D.C., do not require mandatory ignition interlocks for convicted drunk drivers.
  • 18 states do not have primary seat belt laws.
  • 44 states scored a "B" or lower on a teen dating violence law review by the Break the Cycle organization.
  • 13 states do not have strong youth sport concussion safety laws.

For more information, see the report at
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Rachel Taylor
July 17, 2012 at 3:25 pm

Yeah, Mike. I completely agree!!!

Jim Turner
July 17, 2012 at 2:45 pm

Glad I don't live in a safe state like NY. I would rather have my gun and no Motorcycle helmet and take my chances.

July 17, 2012 at 2:26 pm

Free,"really"i dont feel safe anymore,especially because not every state has people that report crime.They take care of there own,its come to that,i trust my two hands rather then a stranger in a uniform,a five minute story does not tell all.

July 17, 2012 at 6:01 am

So, in other words, states with the most intrusive and overbearing governments are "safest", while states that allow their citizens a measure of freedom are "unsafe". I guess the key to "safety" is to surrender all of your freedom and let the authorities direct you like a puppet. The "safest" states listed are all socialist nanny states with crippling taxes and regulations.

I'd rather be "unsafe" than be a slave.

Joseph Jeanes, II
July 16, 2012 at 2:35 pm

I found that California offers the most reasoned access to the courts. One unique thing about an active court system is that initial differences are quickly taken care of in court. Almost anyone can enter the court in California. The advantage is that how many people are going to have a strong difference and not immediately recognize the advantages of going to court.

I had lived in the State of Virginia for about 40 years. I am 59. The fault in Virginia is you cannot file anything in the court. Unless it is the regular sort of open difficulty like speeding or drinking the court system is impossible to enter so you can go a statutory time and still not get into court. The merged process appears to be a low incident public agenda when it is simply a fixed report that has initial appeal for money but then you are simply at a loss on how to get it back at a difficulty.

The active court system promotes rapid response in California and it does appear to be expensive but what is cheaper, being in a place that nothing is solved at public or where at least you are getting more for you money.

The laws of property and possession are so different. The people in Virginia say law is 99 percent possession and one percent law. With a fix in history, the future does better in 99 percent law and one percent possession.

July 16, 2012 at 2:32 pm

Given the criteria listed, I am PROUD to live in a state ranked at the BOTTOM of this list. It isn't about safety. This list ranks on CONTROL.

July 15, 2012 at 6:08 pm

I am not a racist. I even own a color tv !!!

July 15, 2012 at 12:04 pm

CA and NY. The two biggest nanny states in the nation. The state of CA is perpetually broke while the average family can barely afford a home of their own in many areas. NY? I guess a nanny is needed to legislate how much soda you can drink. Both of these states are prime examples of the over reach of government creating conditions that are unsustainable. Whatever happened to personal choice and responsiblity?

July 15, 2012 at 1:22 am

Unless the purpose of these statistics is to document the states with the most active legislatures, these numbers mean nothing.

What matters is the outcome. Let's see the stats for child injuries for states with and without a booster seat law.

Let's see the stats for motorcyclists brain trauma in states with and without helmet laws.

If the stats prove that a law might improve the welfare of the society, then it should be considered. For the most part, common sense can provide the same protection as a law. We have enough laws and enough people getting paid to write them.

July 11, 2012 at 9:48 pm

free america??!! ...i don't think we are as free as we think.