If you want to reduce fatal injuries, the nanny state works, concludes a new report from the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Laws requiring seat belts and helmets, tracking prescription-drug purchases, and making it easy for battered partners to seek restraining orders are among the public-policy measures that are correlated with a reduced death toll from injuries, which kill more Americans than infectious disease, Alzheimer’s, or diabetes, the report found.
The researchers compared per-capita injury death rates with the number of injury-prevention laws in all 50 states and found that, by and large, the states with the most laws had the fewest injury deaths.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the states where residents are least likely to be killed by car crashes, falls, poisonings, drownings, and homicides were states with many public-health measures on the books: New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, California, Connecticut, Hawaii and Illinois. These states had the lowest injury death rates in the nation, with fewer than 50 deaths each year for every 100,000 people. The most dangerous states? New Mexico, Montana, and Alaska had more than 85 people killed by injuries for every 100,000 residents.
“Thousands of injuries could be prevented and billions of dollars could be saved in medical costs each year with the wider implementation of research-based policies and an increased investment in programs, enforcement, and public education,” the report states.
The trend didn’t hold uniformly, however. New Hampshire also ranked as relatively safe, with 50 deaths per 100,000 residents, even though it only has four of the 10 public-policy laws tracked by the report. The Granite State is the only state in the country with no mandatory seat-belt law.
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