Health: Kentucky ranked No. 10 in injury-related deaths

By Debbie Howes Fleming Published:

According to a recently released report, “The Facts Hurt: A State by State Injury Prevention Policy Report,” Kentucky had the 10th highest rate of injury-related deaths in the United States. The report released by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation concluded that many of the injuries that occur across America each year could have been prevented.

The report is based on a set of 10 leading evidence-based strategies or indicators that have been shown to reduce injuries and save lives. Of these indicators, Kentucky scored three out of the ten. Only two states scored a nine out of the possible 10. Those states were New York and California.

Kentucky law does require the use of safety belts in motor vehicles. Kentucky has a strong concussion law in place as well as an active prescription drug monitoring system in place. Our state falls short in requiring helmets for motorcycle riders and for children riding bikes.

Kentucky is not one of the 16 states that have mandatory laws requiring ignition locks for all drunk drivers, including first time offenders. Other indicators address reducing or eliminating both adult and teen relationship violence, car seat and booster seat usage.

The third leading cause of death in the U.S. for all ages is injuries resulting from accidents and acts of violence. Unintentional accidents are the leading cause of death for children under the age of 14. Motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of accidental death in children.

Many experts, including those from Safe Kids International, believe that the number of injuries and deaths could be reduced by 90 percent by taking precautionary measures. Each year more than 1,800 children are killed in vehicle crashes and another 228,000 are injured. Child restraint seats, when installed correctly, reduce infant mortality by 71 percent.

It is estimated that more than 85 percent of all child restraint seats including booster seats, are installed incorrectly. One common mistake is placing a child in the incorrect type of seat such as using a forward facing car seat before the child is the proper height and weight for the seat.

Another mistake is using a borrowed or “yard sale” car seat. A “gently used” car seat may look perfectly fine, but if it was involved in an accident or if it was recalled it may be defective. Another important safe guard is to follow the manufactures guidelines for installation. Washington D.C. and 33 states require booster seats for children eight and under in motor vehicles. Booster seats save lives.

The report points out several up and coming trends involving accidental injuries and deaths. One is falls in the older population. This trend is expected to increase as Baby Boomers continue to age. Other trends include cell phone usage and texting while operating a motor vehicle.

Currently, Kentucky law prohibits texting for all drivers except to seek medical or emergency help. Drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from using cell phones while operating a motor vehicle.

To view the entire report, visit www.healthyamericans.org.

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