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Opioids Now More Deadly for Americans Than Traffic Accidents

HealthDay News
by -- Robert Preidt
Updated: Jan 14th 2019

new article illustration

MONDAY, Jan. 14, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- For the first time in history, Americans' risk of dying from an opioid overdose is higher than their risk of dying in a car accident, the National Safety Council reported Monday.

The chances of dying from an accidental opioid overdose in the United States are now 1 in 96, compared to a 1 in 103 risk of dying in a traffic crash, according to the new analysis of preventable deaths in the council's Injury Facts publication.

The opioid crisis is the reason why opioid overdoses are now at the top of the list, and that crisis is worsening with an influx of illicit fentanyl, according to the council.

The analysis of U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data also shows that falls are the third leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States, with a lifetime risk of 1 in 114, an increase from 1 in 119 a few years ago.

Preventable injuries are the third leading cause of death in the United States, claiming 169,936 lives in 2017. Heart disease and cancer are the two leading causes of death.

Of the three leading causes of death, preventable injuries were the only category with an increase in 2017, according to the council.

A person's lifetime risk of dying from any preventable, accidental cause is 1 in 25, compared with 1 in 30 in 2004.

Other new data in the report show that bicycle deaths rose 28 percent in 2016; sports and recreational injuries disproportionately affect youngsters aged 5 to 14; most fatal falls occur in December and January; men are more likely than women to die from preventable causes; and preventable deaths far outnumber intentional deaths.

"We've made significant strides in overall longevity in the United States, but we are dying from things typically called accidents at rates we haven't seen in half a century," said Ken Kolosh, manager of statistics at the council.

"We cannot be complacent about 466 lives lost every day. This new analysis reinforces that we must consistently prioritize safety at work, at home and on the road to prevent these dire outcomes," he said in a council news release.

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse has more about the opioid crisis.