Injuries are also the country’s second-most-expensive health problem, costing more than $400 billion in medical costs and lost productivity. However, injury prevention receives less than 5 percent of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention budget, said Andrea Gielen, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy.
In the Sunshine State, 67 out of every 100,000 residents die each year from such preventable injuries as drunken driving, not wearing a motorcycle helmet, drug overdoses, falls and domestic violence. Nationwide the average is 58. Males comprise two-thirds of those deaths.
The loss isn’t just emotional. Fatal injury costs Florida $118 million a year in total lifetime medical costs, according to the report.
Quite a range exists among states. New Mexico, where nearly one in 1,000 residents suffers a fatal injury each year, received the worst score. The safest state was New Jersey.
Injury-prevention programs in each state and access to quality trauma medical care account for some of that disparity, said Amber Williams, executive director of the Safe States Alliance, a nonprofit injury-prevention organization.
Beyond bearing the bad news, the report’s authors also had suggestions for ways every state could improve its numbers — and prevent millions of injuries a year.
The authors consulted with leading safety experts to create a list of 10 preventive measures that states could adopt. All have proved to reduce deaths from injury. Of the 10, Florida has six in place, according to the report.
The Sunshine State could step it up by adding built-in breath-alcohol testers to the ignitions of cars belonging to convicted drunken drivers as well as passing a motorcycle-helmet law, meeting the American Academy of Pediatrics standards for child-booster seats in vehicles and working to break the cycle of teen-dating violence.
Florida state laws already require seat belts, bicycle helmets and prescription-drug monitoring, which scored points.
Compared with other states, Florida ranked at the mid-point for its preventive measures. California and New York scored highest at nine out of 10 each. New York also was the second-safest state, bested only by neighboring New Jersey.
Montana and Ohio scored lowest at two each.
“These are scientifically supported steps we can take to make it easier for Americans to keep themselves and their families safer,” said Jeff Levi, executive director of Trust for America’s Health.