Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR)

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July 8, 2016 / 65(26)
[Free full-text MMWR article PDF]

Vital Signs: Motor Vehicle Injury Prevention — United States and 19 Comparison Countries

[EXCERPTS]

Abstract

Background: Each year >32,000 deaths and 2 million nonfatal injuries occur on U.S. roads.

Methods: CDC analyzed 2000 and 2013 data compiled by the World Health Organization and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to determine the number and rate of motor vehicle crash deaths in the United States and 19 other high-income OECD countries and analyzed estimated seat belt use and the percentage of deaths that involved alcohol-impaired driving or speeding, by country.

Results: In 2013, the United States motor vehicle crash death rate of 10.3 per 100,000 population had decreased 31% from the rate in 2000; among the 19 comparison countries, the rate had declined an average of 56% during this time. Among all 20 countries, the United States had the highest rate of crash deaths per 100,000 population (10.3); the highest rate of crash deaths per 10,000 registered vehicles (1.24), and the fifth highest rate of motor vehicle crash deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (1.10). Among countries for which information on national seat belt use was available, the United States ranked 18th out of 20 for front seat use, and 13th out of 18 for rear seat use. Among 19 countries, the United States reported the second highest percentage of motor vehicle crash deaths involving alcohol-impaired driving (31%), and among 15, had the eighth highest percentage of crash deaths that involved speeding (29%).

Conclusions and Comments: Motor vehicle injuries are predictable and preventable. Lower death rates in other high-income countries, as well as a high prevalence of risk factors in the United States, suggest that the United States can make more progress in reducing crash deaths. With a projected increase in U.S. crash deaths in 2015, the time is right to reassess U.S. progress and set new goals. By implementing effective strategies, including those that increase seat belt use and reduce alcohol-impaired driving and speeding, the United States can prevent thousands of motor vehicle crash-related injuries and deaths and save hundreds of millions of dollars in direct medical costs every year.

Key Points

  • In 2013, the United States motor vehicle crash death rate of 10.3 per 100,000 population had decreased 31% from the rate in 2000; the average rate among 19 high income comparison countries had declined 56% during this time, nearly twice as much. The United States had the lowest percentage decline among the comparison countries from 2000 to 2013.
  • Motor vehicle crash deaths are responsible for >32,000 deaths and 2 million nonfatal injuries per year.
  • Compared with 19 other high-income countries, the United States had the most motor vehicle crash deaths per 100,000 population and per 10,000 registered vehicles; second highest percentage of deaths involving alcohol-impaired driving; and third lowest national front seat belt use.
  • Despite proven measures in motor vehicle injury prevention, in 2013, 90 persons died every day on U.S. roads. Lower rates in other high-income countries suggest that the United States can make more progress in reducing motor vehicle crash deaths.
      • If the United States’ motor vehicle crash death rate was equivalent to the rate in Belgium (the country with the second highest death rate), 12,000 fewer lives would have been lost and $140 million in direct medical costs would have been averted in 2013.
      • If the United States’ motor vehicle crash death rate was equivalent to the average of the 19 comparison countries, at least 18,000 fewer lives would have been lost and $210 million in direct medical costs would have been averted in 2013.
    • If the United States’ motor vehicle crash death rate was equivalent to the rate in Sweden (the best performing country), at least 24,000 fewer lives would have been lost and $281 million in direct medical costs would have been averted in 2013.

[CDC Press Release]

[Vital Signs Article]

[Link to free full-text MMWR report PDF]

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
www.cdc.gov

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