Injury Prevention Policy: All Levels of Government Must Do More to Keep People Safe

by Laura Segal, Director of Public Affairs, Trust for America’s Health

It’s common sense, right? If you want to avoid injuries, you wear seatbelts and helmets, use proper child safety seats and undertake other means that you know prevent injuries. While individuals are responsible for taking steps to stay safe and protect themselves and their families from injuries, experts have found that public education, laws and policies can also play a major role in helping keep Americans healthy and safe.

However, according to a new Trust for America’s Health report, The Facts Hurt: A State-By-State Injury Prevention Policy Report, many states and the federal government do not have policies or laws that we know can protect citizens from injury.

The report found that many injury prevention activities have been scientifically shown to reduce harm and deaths. For example:

Seat belts saved an estimated 69,000 lives from 2006 to 2010;
Motorcycle helmets saved an estimated 8,000 lives from 2005 to 2009;
Child safety seats saved around 1,800 lives from 2005 to 2009; and
School-based programs to prevent violence have cut violent behavior among high school students by 29 percent.
Injuries are serious business and cost the country billions of dollars. They are the leading cause of death for Americans under 44 and the third leading cause of death overall. Nationally, 57.9 per 100,000 Americans die in injury-related fatalities every year and injuries generate $406 billion in lifetime costs for medical care and lost productivity annually.

It is clear there are proven, evidence-based strategies that can spare millions of Americans from injuries each year and make it easier for Americans to keep themselves and their families safer.

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