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Data Study: Accidental Death in the United States 

— March 21, 2023

One of the most important things you can do is follow proper safety guidelines whether working or engaging in recreational activity.

Millions of people die in the United States every year. These deaths occur due to a variety of causes. For instance, during the Covid 19 pandemic in 2020, some 3.4 million Americans died. That’s over 500,000 more people than the previous year in 2019. This doesn’t necessarily mean that COVID was the cause of all 500 thousand deaths, or that COVID did not cause an even higher number of deaths, but it does tell us that more people died in 2020 than 2019 regardless of cause.

When we take out the data for natural deaths – health and disease related deaths – we are left with accidental deaths. Accidental deaths, classified as death from unintentional injuries, are the third leading cause of death in the United States overall.

Law firm Salter, Healy, Rivera, & Heptner put together a study that looked at 19 years of CDC data and analyzed it to learn some interesting facts about accidental deaths, such as where they are most likely to occur.

Death Rates in the U.S.

The data that was collected by the CDC looked at death rates from various causes in all 50 states in the US.

The data shows that certain pockets of the country, namely the southeast and midwest, suffer from more health-related deaths than other parts of the country. The higher rates of accidental deaths appear to be found in more rural states with lower populations and broader areas of open space. From this we can draw a conclusion that more accidental deaths happen in places with more types of outdoor recreational activity, such as hunting and riding 4-wheelers.

Another conclusion from the data was that when we combine the rates of health-related deaths with those of accidental deaths, certain states have much higher rates of death than others, disproportionate to their location and population.

Most Dangerous States

In fact, when we look at the highest overall death rates, we see that the states with the most accidental deaths are ranked incredibly highly. For instance, New Mexico is at the top of the list for high death rates because it has the highest rate of accidental deaths as well as the second highest number of overall deaths in the country. This shows us that New Mexico has a high rate of not only deaths related to accidents, but also health and wellness related deaths.

Mutilated Cattle in Oregon Puzzle Authorities, Ranch Offers Reward
Photo by Teresa Vega on Unsplash

This trend carries throughout the list of the states with the highest death rates. Wyoming holds the #5 spot for unintentional deaths, and the #3 spot for overall deaths. What we can assume from this available data is that accidental deaths are higher in these areas due to a difference in lifestyle types, a propensity for dangerous or more physical work (ranching, farming), and the types of recreational activities that populations in these states engage in. More rural areas also come with the obstacle of slower emergency response times, due to the widespread nature of those states.

How to Reduce the Risk of Accidental Injury and Death 

While we don’t have all the data to determine the rate of accident risk and the relation to the number of deaths, we do know that with proper safety and education it is possible to decrease the rate of accidents, injury, and death.

One of the most important things you can do is follow proper safety guidelines whether working or engaging in recreational activity. Wearing helmets and safety gear, working with others, and following the proper safety standards will make a large difference in whether or not you end up accidentally injured or worse. If you’re dealing with a particularly dangerous job, it’s important to always have help and follow proper procedures, regardless of how sure of yourself you are. The same goes for recreation. We hope this information will help keep you safe regardless of where you live in the United States.

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