Injuries are the third leading cause of death nationally, the leading cause of death for Americans between the ages of 1 and 44. Kentucky is among the nation's most problematic states, and it could take several more steps to prevent injuries, says a new state-by-state report on injury-prevention policy.
Kentucky ranks 10th in the nation for injury-related deaths, with a rate of 76.5 such deaths per 100,000 people, and the state spends about $26.8 million for injury-related medical expenses. New Mexico has the highest rate of injury-related deaths, 97.8 per 100,000 people, and New Jersey has the lowest at 36.1. The national rate is 57.9, so Kentucky's rate is almost a third higher than the nation.
Kentucky scored with only three of a set of 10 key indicators for injury prevention: its primary seat belt law, which most states also have; its prescription drug monitoring program, driven by heavy abuse of painkillers; and a strong law on youth sports concussions. Among the injury-prevention indicators that Kentucky lacks, it does not:
- Require bicycle helmets for all children.
- Require that children ride in a car seat or booster seat to at least the age of eight.
- Require helmets for all motorcycle riders. (It once did, but when the law was repealed, deaths rose 50 percent, the report says.)
- Does not require mandatory ignition interlocks for convicted drunk drivers.
- Does not allow people in dating relationships to get protection orders.
The report by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation concludes that millions of injuries could be prevented and billions of dollars could be saved in medical costs each year if more states adopted, implemented and enforced additional research-based injury prevention policies and programs. (Read more).