You Are More Likely to Die from a Drug Overdose Than a Car Accident in PA

So is that because we're safer drivers or doing more drugs?


Washington D.C.-based organization Trust for America’s Health has released a new study that indicates that Pennsylvanians are more likely to die from a drug overdose than they are from injuries sustained in a car accident.

The study analyzed injury-related death statistics for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. For overall injury-related deaths, Pennsylvania fell close to the middle in TFAH’s ranking, landing at 23rd place with a rate of 64.3 deaths due to injury per 100,000 deaths. West Virginia fared the worst, with a rate of 97.9, while New York was a pretty safe place, with a rate of 40.3. The national average is 58.4.

But in the rankings for drug overdose deaths, Pennsylvania finds itself among the worst states. Our Commonwealth placed ninth, with a death by overdose rate of 18.9 out of 100,000 deaths. Not nearly as bad as West Virginia (rate of 33.5), which once again took first place, but much worse that North Dakota, which scored the best with a rate of 2.6. In Pennsylvania, along with most other states, the death by drug overdose rate has surpassed the death by car accident rate.

So maybe we’re just becoming better drivers?

“Well, that would be nice,” laughs TFAH’s Albert Lang. “In some places, motor vehicle deaths have gone down, but only slightly. But really, the problem is the abuse of prescription drugs, which are responsible nationally for over 50 percent of drug-related overdoses.”

And heroin use is on the rise nationally, in part because states have begun cracking down on prescription drug abuse, making the pills harder to get. The study also points out that Pennsylvania is among the 25 states that do not have a state-run monitoring database for prescription drugs.

“Injuries are not just acts of fate,” TFAH executive director Jeffrey Levi said in a statement. “Research shows they are pretty predictable and preventable. This report illustrates how evidence-based strategies can actually help prevent and reduce motor vehicle crashes, head injuries, fires, falls, homicide, suicide, assaults, sexual violence, child abuse, drug misuse, overdoses and more. It’s not rocket science, but it does require common sense and investment in good public health practice.”

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