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Accidental Death Rate Creeps Higher and Higher Due to Falls, Drug Overdoses, and Motorcycle Crashes

07/9/2007
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After years of decline, thanks to safety standards and increased law enforcement, accidental deaths in the United States are on a sharp upswing – with apparently no end in sight.

The National Safety Council warns that if the trend continues, accidents will surpass an all-time high set in 1969 (http://www.intelihealth.com/). This epidemic cost us an estimated $625.5 billion in 2005, including projected lost earnings, medical expenses and motor vehicle damages.

One reason for the increase is our aging population. Formerly alert and cautious Baby Boomers are tripping over household hazards; falls are the leading cause of accidental deaths among the elderly. Another biggie in this age group is motorcycle deaths, 35% of which were among bikers over 45 in 2005.

Among younger Americans, car crashes and accidental overdoses from legal and illegal drugs are at the top of the lethal list. In fact, accidents are the number one killer of people under 44. Among older Americans, accidents rank only fifth – behind heart disease, cancer, stroke and respiratory disease.

Hesitating to reduce such alarming statistics to mere semantics, I still have to ask, when is an accident just an accident . . . and when is it the result of the carelessness or negligence of, say, a greedy pharmaceutical company that fails to warn of a drug’s dangers? Or a motorcycle maker who skirts safety standards in favor of higher profits? Or manufacturers who lure the elderly with safety products they know are not safe at all?

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