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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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July 18, 2012 at 12:02 pm

Well said Bob Carlson

Bob Carlson
July 18, 2012 at 11:31 am

Safety should be measured by acts of violence committed upon ones person by another. Self-inflicted injury whether intentional or not is not right to measure as many rules or laws which deprive the individual of freedom is not the same thing. Governments role should be to protect people from harm committed by others not oneself. If people elect to self inflict harm this is their choice. If God gave man free choice why does Government try to become greater or impose its will on man usurping the role of God. It confuses me that so many people are imposing their will on others. What a bunch of slave masters.Those who do evil in the name of Good are incomprehensible.

July 18, 2012 at 11:24 am

I agree,,,those who chose not to wear a helmet...need not worry, their heads are so hard,,,and full of nothinhg it cant hurt them!!!!

July 18, 2012 at 11:19 am

How did I survive for 71 years before all these laws were passed?

July 18, 2012 at 10:56 am

How is the wearing of a helmet while riding a motorcycle making your or others safer? It is my choice to wear or not wear and the only life that is at risk is mine. Just putting it out there for thought.

July 18, 2012 at 10:21 am

How could California rank at the top when it is releasing convicted felons from prison, due to "overcrowding" to prey on the citizenry?

July 18, 2012 at 9:05 am

This article is absolutely worthless. All it tells you is which states spend the most "to keep you safe" what ever that means.

It could be the states spending the most are the worst (most dangerous) states to live in and those spending the least are the best (least dangerous) states to live in.

Also, as a rule, those states imposing the most rules and regulations on you are the states where you are less free.

It is amazing to me that people actually get paid to publish this kind of rubbish.

jeanie stockton
July 17, 2012 at 8:00 pm

well at least tenn.has all these laws in tack,now if they would stop the cell phone use while driving that would save alot more lives.

July 17, 2012 at 7:40 pm

To MarcM:

I work in a profession where parents are often the cause of their own children's injuries - either by not monitoring their activities, or enabling them to participate in dangerous ones. It's a parent's responsibility to ensure their children are safe and healthy. Parents who do so, shouldn't be parents.. It's just plain irresponsible. Also, anyone who doesn't wear a seatbelt while in a car, or doesn't wear a helmet while on a motorcycle, is also irresponsible.
It's unfortunate, but sometimes the government has to intervene to make sure people are making the right decisions. It's a way to save people from themselves.
To me, the definition of safe is being able to live another day without endangering my life or the life of someone else.
A little common sense goes a long way!

July 17, 2012 at 5:43 pm

Your definition of safe isn't mine... safe is freedom.