• U.S.

Vital Statistics: The Accident Toll

2 minute read

Accidents—on the road, at work, at play and in the home—are now the leading cause of death among Americans aged 1 to 37. According to the National Research Council, accidents killed a total of 107,000 Americans last year, temporarily or permanently disabled 10.5 million, caused injury requiring treatment to 52 million. Some 49,000 of the deaths were caused by auto accidents. The bill, in wage losses, medical expenses and insurance settlements, was $18 billion.

Though industrial mishaps have nearly been halved in the past third of a century, and though stringent auto-safety standards will soon be put into effect (see U.S. BUSINESS), the U.S. still lacks prevention programs for private homes, public places, and forms of transport other than motor vehicles, where the great majority of nonfatal accidents occur. Moreover, says the Council (an offshoot of the National Academy of Sciences), the care that an accident victim can expect in most U.S. cities is too often inadequate. Ambulance service is frequently slipshod, with untrained personnel causing more injuries and deaths by careening through traffic lights, sirens shrieking, than they would if they took it a little easier.

To reduce the heavy toll, the Council recommended that national groups be set up to help prevent accidents, improve emergency treatment, and conduct research into such fields as shock and trauma.

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