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 http://www.rwjf.org/publichealth/product.jsp?id=74400.
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