U.S. States With Most, Least Deaths From Injuries

New Mexico Had Most Injury-Related Deaths, New Jersey Had Fewest

By Cari Nierenberg
WebMD Health News

Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

May 22, 2012 -- Thousands of injuries could be prevented and billions of dollars in medical costs could be saved each year if states implemented more research-based prevention policies, concludes a new report released today.

Injuries are the No. 1 cause of death for Americans aged 1 to 44, and the third leading cause of death nationwide. More than two-thirds of all injury deaths occur in men.

The report, The Facts Hurt: A State-by-State Injury Prevention Policy Report, published by the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, focuses on the steps people can take themselves as well as the strategies states can enforce to protect against injury.

It also identified emerging common injury threats that can cause people harm, from concussions in school sports and bullying, to texting while driving and higher levels of prescription drug abuse, among others.

"This report focuses on specific, scientifically supported steps we can take to make it easier for Americans to keep themselves and their families safer," Jeff Levi, PhD, executive director of Trust for America's Health, says in a news release.

In the research, public health experts reviewed the policies in each state and the District of Columbia in 10 areas known to reduce injuries and save lives. Their findings include:

Motor Vehicle Injuries:

1. Did states have primary seat belt laws? Researchers found 32 states and Washington, D.C., require seat belt use.

2. Mandatory ignition interlocks for convicted drunk drivers? Researchers found 16 states require this.

3. A universal motorcycle helmet law for all riders? Researchers found 19 states and Washington, D.C., require helmets.

4. Are children under 8 required to use car seats or booster seats? Researchers found 33 states and Washington, D.C., require this.

Other Vehicle Injuries:

5. Bicycle helmet laws for children? Researchers found 21 states and Washington, D.C., require kids' bike helmets.

Violence-Related Injuries:

6. Can people who are dating get protection orders? Researchers found 44 states and Washington, D.C., allow this.

7. Did state earn top grade for laws protecting teens from dating violence? Researchers found six states and Washington, D.C., received an "A" grade.

Falls, Drowning, and Sports-Related Injuries:

8. Strong youth sports concussion safety laws? Researchers found 36 states and Washington, D.C., have strong laws.

Poisoning Injuries:

9. Statewide prescription drug monitoring program? Researchers found 48 states have an active or pending program.

Research Tools for Injury Reduction:

10. A hospital coding system recording 90% of injury causes in patients? Researchers found the emergency departments of hospitals in 23 states record 90% or more of the causes of injury discharges.

California and New York were the only two states scoring a 9 out of 10 on the above measures, the highest rating given. Montana and Ohio received the lowest rating with a 2 out of 10. The majority of states scored a 5 or higher for their injury prevention policies.

States: Deaths From Injury

The report also ranked each state based on its number of deaths due to injury during 2007 to 2009. Those injuries could have been accidental or intentional, meaning from violence-related causes such as murder, suicide, or child abuse.

Here are the five states with the highest death rates from injuries in the U.S.

  1. New Mexico - 97.8 deaths per 100,000 people
  2. Montana - 86.5 deaths per 100,00 people
  3. Alaska - 85.8 deaths per 100,000 people
  4. Wyoming - 84.7 deaths per 100,000 people
  5. Mississippi - 84.3 deaths per 100,000 people

Here are the 5 states with the lowest death rates from injuries in the U.S.

  1. New Jersey - 36.1 deaths per 100,000 people
  2. New York - 37.1 deaths per 100,000 people
  3. Massachusetts - 41.1 deaths per 100,000 people
  4. California - 47.6 deaths per 100,000 people
  5. Connecticut - 47.9 deaths per 100,000 people

For a complete ranking of all 50 states and the District of Columbia, visit www.healthyamericans.org.

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SOURCES: "The Facts Hurt: A State-by-State Injury Prevention Policy Report," published May 22, 2012. News release, Trust for America's Health.

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