Fatal overdoses, falls on rise in US
AP Science Writer

WASHINGTON — Accidents are killing more Americans each year, increasingly from overdoses and falls.

A report from the National Safety Council said that in 2014, about 136,000 Americans died accidentally. That’s up 4.2 percent from the year before and a jump of 15.5 percent over a decade. And the accident rate has risen despite a 22 percent plunge in car crash deaths since 2005.

Overdose and accidental poisonings are up 78 percent over a decade — pushing aside car crashes as the No. 1 accidental killer in the United States. They killed 42,032 people, about 6,000 more than vehicle accidents. Opioid overdoses killed 13,486 people in 2014, the nonprofit safety council reported.

Falls are up 63 percent over a decade, which analysts said is a function of an aging society.

Where you live can more than double the rate of accidental deaths. Maryland, California, and New York have the lowest accidental death rates — around 30 per 100,000 people. West Virginia — driven by overdoses — has the highest accidental death rate at 75.2 per 100,000, followed by Oklahoma (64.3) and Montana (61.4). The national average is 41.3 accidental deaths per 100,000 people.

In 1999, overdoses, poisonings and falls accounted for one in four accidental deaths. Now, they are more half of them.

In the past, accidents ranked as low as seventh leading killer of Americans, but the country has done a better job of reducing and preventing illness deaths than accidental ones.

The 218-page annual Injury Facts report is based on federal death and injury statistics and other science studies, and gives a big picture look at what’s really killing Americans and sending them to the hospitals. The three biggest killers remain diseases: heart disease, cancer, and lower respiratory diseases. But unintentional injury — the accidents at work, home and in vehicles that the report concentrates on — is the fourth leading killer, beating out stroke, Alzheimer’s diabetes, flu, and suicide.

The report notes the drop in motor vehicle deaths in 2014, down to 35,398 from a high of more than 53,000 in 1980.

People think murder is a big risk in America, but there are eight accidental deaths for every homicide. And there are more than two times as many suicides as murders.

Associated Press