Kentucky scored a dismal 3 on a scale of 10 in a safety study that assessed states against the the top 10 injury indicators in the country. The state had the 10th highest injury rate, with 76.6 Kentuckians per 100,000 dying from intentional or unintentional injuries. Injuries are the third leading cause of death nationally, and the leading cause of death for Americans between ages 1 and 44.
The survey assessed states on whether they:
• Have primary seat belt laws.
• Require mandatory ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers, including first offenders
• Require all motorcycle riders to wear helmets.
• Require booster seats to at least the age of 8.
• Require children to wear bicycle helmets.
• Allow people in dating relationships to get protection orders.
• Receive an A in the Break the Cycle Report, which examines teen dating violence.
• Have a strong concussion law.
• Have an active prescription drug monitoring program.
• Have a strong policy in emergency departments that allows researchers and officials to understand injury trends.
Kentucky got points for having a seat-belt law, a strong concussion law and a drug monitoring program. The state was close to getting credit for the booster seat indicator; it requires the seats for children until they are 7. Kentucky also reported more than 85 percent of injury discharges in its emergency departments, but the indicator only gave credit to states that do it more than 90 percent of the time. But Kentucky was far was perfect when it came to teen dating violence, receiving a F grade in the Break the Cycle report.
Because of its injury rate, the study concluded Kentuckains pay $26.8 million in lifetime medical costs due to fatal injuries and $3.3 billion for total lifetime work loss due to fatal injuries.
The study shows how injury prevention policies can help save lives. The report points out that after Kentucky repealed its universal helmet law in 1998, motorcycle deaths rose by 50 percent.