Unintentional injuries now the third-leading cause of death: NSC

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Itasca, IL — A total of 161,374 people died from unintentional, preventable injuries in 2016, making such incidents the third-leading cause of death in the United States for the first time, a National Safety Council data analysis shows.

NSC examined the data, published by the National Center for Health Statistics, and found that preventable injuries caused 14,803 more deaths in 2016 than in 2015. The 10 percent increase is the largest year-over-year percentage climb since 1936, while the 18.6 percent increase from 2014 is the largest two-year percentage since NSC began tracking the statistic in 1903.

NSC researchers attribute the rise in unintentional deaths to the opioid crisis, a Jan. 17 press release states. Opioid-related deaths totaled 37,814 in 2016, compared with 29,382 in 2015.

“Our complacency results in 442 deaths each day,” NSC President and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman said in the release. “For years our country has accepted unintentional injuries as an unavoidable reality. The truth is, there is no such thing as an accident. Every single one of these deaths was preventable. We know what to do to save lives, but collectively we have failed to prioritize safety at work, at home and on the road.”

NSC offers a free Safety Checkup tool that allows users to assess risk based on such factors as age, gender and state of residence.