NSC Releases Annual Compilation of the Leading Causes of Preventable Death

NSC Releases Annual Compilation of the Leading Causes of Preventable Death

Injury Facts 2017 reveals most significant safety threats facing Americans today.

Itasca, IL – The National Safety Council today released the 2017 edition of Injury Facts® – the definitive annual publication for preventable deaths and injuries in the United States for nearly 100 years. Preventable deaths – commonly known as "accidents" – have reached an all-time high, with 146,571 Americans dying in 2015 from causes such as drug overdoses, motor vehicle crashes, falls, choking and drowning.[i] The number of people killed in preventable incidents trails only heart disease, cancer and chronic lower respiratory disease, and outpaces strokes, diabetes and Alzheimer's disease.

"Good data help us make good decisions, and Injury Facts® gives us a roadmap for eliminating preventable deaths in our lifetime," said Ken Kolosh, statistics manager and Injury Facts author at the National Safety Council. "We hope government officials, business leaders, safety professionals and anyone working to make the world a safer place will use Injury Facts® to shape decision making and inform injury prevention efforts."

Among the more jarring statistics in the 2017 edition:

  • Poisonings, including those from opioid prescription painkiller overdoses, were the leading cause of preventable death in 24 states and Washington, D.C. The drug overdose epidemic has directly driven the overall rise in preventable deaths. 
  • Approximately 58,000 fewer people would have died in 2015 if the preventable death rate had kept pace with the improving overall fatality rate. Instead, Americans are increasingly surviving other common causes of death and dying from incidents that are proven to be avoidable. 
  • The annual societal cost of preventable injuries is $886.4 billion – the equivalent of 52 cents for every dollar an American spends on food.
  • An American's lifetime odds of dying from an opioid overdose are 1 in 98. The lifetime odds of dying in a motor vehicle crash are 1 in 112. 
  • Weather-related deaths rose 24 percent in 2015.
  • Transportation incidents now account for 41% of work-related fatalities.
  • Possibly 478,000 workplace injuries may involve fatigue or sleep problems.

A free recording of a webinar addressing highlights from the 2017 edition of Injury Facts® is available, and the entire book can be purchased at nsc.org/injuryfacts. Credentialed media may request a complimentary copy of the book by emailing [email protected]

About the National Safety Council

Founded in 1913 and chartered by Congress, the National Safety Council, nsc.org, is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to eliminate preventable deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy. NSC advances this mission by partnering with businesses, government agencies, elected officials and the public in areas where we can make the most impact – distracted driving, teen driving, workplace safety, prescription drug overdoses and Safe Communities.

[i] According to NSC analysis of National Center for Health Statistics data

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