If asked about the leading cause of death in the United States, many of us would name heart disease the culprit. While this may be the case for older Americans, another concerning offender affects a significantly younger age group. According to the CDC's Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System, unintentional injury is the leading cause of death for people under the age of 44. To put the numbers into perspective, approximately 345,000 people died due to unintentional injuries in 2019 alone. That number is nearly half of all deaths caused by heart disease.
These statistics are especially unfortunate considering that these accidents are so often preventable, despite 30 million visits to hospital emergency rooms to treat them each year. The best way to avoid becoming one of these statistics is to better understand what causes them and the steps you can take to prevent them. The three most common causes of accidental injuries are:
Motor Vehicle Accidents
Approximately 2 million people are injured, and more than 30,000 people are killed in motor vehicle accidents each year. Several common causes of motor vehicle accidents include distracted driving, drinking and driving, speeding, reckless operation of a motor vehicle, and operating a motor vehicle with defective equipment.
Distracted driving, which could include using your cell phone and texting while driving, is becoming an epidemic. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides this very sobering statistic: the time it takes to send or receive one text message typically takes a driver's eyes off the road for about five seconds. If you are driving at 55 mph, it would be like driving the length of a football field while blindfolded. It is safe to assume that no one would intentionally drive the length of a football field while blindfolded yet, you are doing precisely that by texting and driving—all while endangering the lives of everyone else on the road.
If you live in a warmer climate and ride a bicycle or motorcycle, always be on the lookout for motor vehicles that are not following the rules of the road and create a risk for people who are more challenging to see. Always wear a helmet and bright clothing.
With the holiday season upon us, people will naturally attend house parties, office parties, and neighborhood parties. Meetings between friends and family members will occur at restaurants and taverns with a high likelihood that alcohol will be a large part of these celebratory gatherings. Unfortunately, far too many tragedies result from drinking and driving accidents. It is always a good idea to have a designated driver with you. If you feel you've had too much to drink and are not in the company of someone who can safely operate a motor vehicle, don't hesitate to get in touch with an Uber or Lyft to get home safely.
As the weather becomes more treacherous, please ensure that your motor vehicle is in good working order, which involves confirming:
- your lights and windshield wipers are functioning properly
- there is enough windshield wiper fluid in the reservoir
- the tires have the proper depth
- your car is in roadworthy condition overall
Make sure you leave plenty of time so you can arrive at your destination without the need to speed or engage in any dangerous driving activity. You must leave plenty of distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you. If you see the light begin to turn yellow, make sure you stop in advance of the intersection so that you do not slide or create a risk of a collision by going through a red light.
If you are traveling long distances, be aware of the dangers of drowsy driving. Make sure you are well-rested, have someone with you to take over the driving responsibilities or pull off the roadway to get some needed rest.
With various home heating methods being utilized this time of year, one of the most significant dangers is carbon monoxide poisoning. Always have an expert come out to inspect your furnace or fireplace before you put it into use. Similar to smoke detectors, your home should be equipped with the appropriate number of carbon monoxide detectors. Keep in mind that the batteries inside these devices should be changed regularly to ensure proper working order.
The CDC estimates that half a million children between the ages of one and five have high levels of lead in their blood. Even a tiny amount of lead within a child's bloodstream can be hazardous. Lead poisoning is a significant concern, as it can result in severe neurological and developmental problems, including communication difficulties, memory problems, and a decreased IQ. The best way to avoid accidental lead poisoning is to have your home checked for this hazard and undergo professional lead removal by anRRP-certified contractor.
Lastly, you should only ever take medications prescribed to you by your doctor and ensure that they are stored in a place inaccessible to young children.
Be very careful as a pedestrian, especially in the winter. Watch for icy roadways, parking lots, and sidewalks. Only cross the street at the designated crosswalk and keep in mind that it might take longer for a car to stop due to the slippery conditions. Severe slip or trip and fall accidents can result in spinal cord injuries or head injuries. that may require surgical intervention. If you are a victim of this type of accident, it is very important to take pictures of the area, including the cause of your fall, and gather information from any eyewitnesses. Doing so can strengthen your Connecticut slip and fall case!
If you follow some of these basic rules, you can help to reduce the risk of becoming an unintentional accident statistic. If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident or is the victim of another's negligence, the lawyers at Hastings, Cohan, & Walsh would be happy to speak with you.
As always, please enjoy a very safe and happy holiday season!