Accidents are responsible for tens of thousands of denths and millions of disabling injuries every year in the United States. In 2003, there were 101,500 denths and 20.7 million disabling injuries attributable to accidents. The prin cipal causes of accidental deaths are motor vehicles, poisoning by solids and liq uids, falls, drowning, and fires. Close to half of all yearly accidental deaths are attributable to motor vehicle accidents.
The trend in accidental deaths and injuries has been generally downward since 1900. The overall death rate, however, has climbed slightly in recent years above the 1992 low water mark of 34.0 to a current rate of 34.9 acciden- tal deaths for every 100,000 Americans. Twelve people die in the United States every hour from an accident, twenty-four hours a day. Each minute, 30 people incur disabling injuries from an accident, twenty-four-seven.
Although the general trend of accidental deaths has been downward, in the last two decades the death rate has been rising. There has been an increase in motor vehicle deaths for the last ten years to 44,300 in 2003, up two percent from 2002. Motorcycle fatalities, based on Transportation Department records show an increase of 8 percent in 2004 to 4000 deaths. SUV accident deaths in 2004 increased 6 percent to 4735. While the real numbers of fatalities and injuries remain unacceptably high, the ratio of traffic deaths to miles driven has fallen to 1.56 deaths for every 100 million miles driven.
Since 1912. the overall death rate has fallen underably for accidents in homes, but there has been a disturbing upward trend in home related deaths and injuries since 1987. In 2003, there were 33.100 unintentional injury deaths in the home. Disabling injuries from acidents in the home are now at about three times the level of traffic injuries. The considerable reduction in workplace deaths is the one bright spot in the picture. In 1912. 20.000 employees last their lives in work accidents, whereas in 2008, with triple the work force only 4,300 lives were lost.
As indicated earlier, in 2003 there were 20.7 million disabling injuries from accidents: 7.9 million and 2.3 million were attributable to home and motor vehicle accidents, respectively. Alcohol is involved in about 10 percent of all types of injurious accidents and 41 percent of all traffic fatalities. Serious injury accidents in the home are about four times more likely than auto accidents. The injuries from home accidents, however, are generally less disabling than from auto collisions. Safety practices and devices have helped to reduce the accident rate consid erably. Seat belts in cars reduce the chance of death or serious injury by about 50 percent. Child safety seats save about 375 lives a year, Automobile airbags save close to 2250 lives a year. Airbags used with lap and shoulder safety belts offer the best crash protection for adult drivers and passengers, however, chil dren under 12 should be seated in rear sents to avoid risks of serious death.