Believe it or not, New York and California are the safest states in the nation, at least when it comes to matters such as seat belt use, bike helmets and drunk driving. A recent report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Trust for America’s Health has ranked states on the steps they have taken to reduce accidental injuries – injuries that are the fifth-leading cause of death in the U.S.
New York and California scored very high in injury prevention measures such as:
•· Primary seat belt laws (18 other states do not have them)
•· Bicycle helmet laws (29 other states do not require them for children)
•· Motorcycle helmet laws (31 other states do not require them for all riders)
•· Mandatory ignition interlocks for convicted drunk drivers (34 states and Washington, D.C. do not require mandatory ignition interlock devices)
State laws and policies that promote safety have a measureable positive effect on accident and injury rates. New York has an annual accidental injury rate of 37.1 per 100,000 people. In contrast, Montana’s injury rate is 86.54 per 100,000, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Trust director Jeff Levi said, “There are proven, evidence-based strategies that can spare millions of Americans from injuries each year. This report focuses on specific, scientifically support steps we can take to make it easier for Americans to keep themselves and their families safer.”
There is still work to be done, even in states such as California and New York. Texting while driving, falls among the elderly, domestic violence and the misuse of prescription drugs are emerging as significant causes of accidental injury. According to Andrea Gielen, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy, factors such as these require the redoubling of efforts to raise the national visibility of safety research and policy.
Source: ABC News,”New York, California Lead States in Injury Prevention,” by Katie Moisse, May 22, 2012.