This month, we must spread the word about personal safety measures that can save lives. Accidental injury is now the 3rd most common cause of death in the U.S. In 2016, the number of preventable deaths increased by 10%! The National Safety Council hasn’t seen such a drastic increase since 1936.
An alarming rate of drug overdoses is the main reason for the leap, but it’s not the only cause. In fact, the culmination of poor safety decisions is the leading cause of accidental injury and death. Events caused by a vehicle accident, a fall, a drowning, and others can be prevented by following certain safety measures.
The NSC has published injury statistics since 1903, and the Injury Facts are now available for the first time online. By making the information more easily accessible, the NSC hopes to see a reversal of this shocking increase in preventable deaths.
Most Common Causes of Death and Injury in North Carolina
Over 5,000 people died from the following preventable deaths in North Carolina. In line with the national standard, the top three causes in the state in 2017 were from poisoning, motor vehicle, and fall accidents.
Accidental Death From Poisoning
The vast majority of deaths that fall under poisoning are from overdosing on opioids. Opioids include prescription pain relievers, heroin, and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. Over two thousand people in North Carolina alone lost their lives to drugs in 2017. The rate of increase in opioid overdose is quickly becoming a national crisis.
People need to know the facts. Opioid misuse often stems from legal, and much needed, prescriptions for pain. But, the relief they find for pain can easily transform into an addiction. The addiction can quickly get out of hand; 80% of people who use heroin first misused prescription opioids. People of all ages and social classes are vulnerable to this decline into drug addiction. The common belief that “I would never become addicted” to pain killers, alcohol, drugs, etc. has proven to be a deadly underestimation.
Rising Death Toll From Drugs: What Can We Do?
First and foremost, do not underestimate the power of addiction. You can become addicted, and so can people you love and care about. The longer you remain in denial, the harder it will be to get clean. If you are worried that you may have a growing dependence on drugs or alcohol, tell your doctor and tell someone you can trust. Seek help! Do not try to beat it alone. North Carolina also has many drug and alcohol abuse rehab centers that can help you or a loved one. Find one near you.
Employers can also make a difference during National Safety Month: learn how.
Accidental Death From Motor Vehicles
The biggest causes of fatalities on the road are impaired driving, speeding, and distracted driving. We are all familiar with the dangers of drunk driving and driving while impaired br drugs. But, impaired driving is not just driving while under the influence of alcohol and drugs. While DUIs are one of the leading causes of fatal accidents, driving while drowsy can be just as dangerous.
Drowsy driving after 18 hours of being awake is equivalent to driving with a blood-alcohol level of .05 (.08 is the legal limit in NC). If you have been awake for over 24 hours, your driving abilities would be the same as a drunk driver blowing a .10!
Signs of Drowsy Driving:
- trouble focusing
- heavy eyelids
- inability to remember the last stretch of road you just drove
- incessant yawning
- bobbing your head
- drifting in your lane
If you experience even one of the above symptoms, switch drivers if you can. If you are the only legal driver, safely pull over and get the rest you need. To prevent drowsy driving altogether, evaluate how alert you are the same way you would how sober you are. Consider how much rest you have gotten, and if your abilities may be impaired. Just like after a night of drinking, opt for a friend or a hired driver, like Uber.
Speeding is not limited to driving faster than the speed limit. Speeding includes driving too fast for road conditions or accelerating faster than is safe (like in road racing). Driving at unsafe speeds can not only leave you with a hefty speeding ticket, but it can also end in injury or death. And you, the driver, aren’t the only one at risk. High-speed accidents frequently involve other vehicles or pedestrians. Your decision to speed can destroy your life and the life of innocent people. It’s simply not worth the risk. The solution: Don’t speed!
Distracted driving: the ever-growing threat of this digital world. Many states have created laws to enforce hands-free driving while using cell phones. No texting. No holding phones to your ear. While this may have helped make the roads safer to some degree, it certainly did not solve the problem. Studies have shown Cognitive Distraction is the real problem, not the availability of our hands.
Cognitive distraction is any activity that takes our mind off the road. Cell phone use is clearly at the top of the list of distractors. However, eating, drinking, talking, listening to music, and such can all be dangerous distractions. Drivers need to take proactive steps to remove temptations and to help them focus on the task at hand, which is driving safely!
To greatly increase your safety on the road, engage “do not disturb” features on your mobile devices as soon as you buckle your seat belt. Choose your music station before you start driving and keep it at a reasonable volume. If you insist on eating or drinking while driving, be sure to prep the food or drink before you put your vehicle into drive.
National Safety Month: Only YOU Can Prevent Preventable Deaths
The wisdom of Smokey the Bear carries over to personal safety. We all must take certain precautions and make smart decisions to ensure our safety and the safety of others. Use National Safety Month as an opportunity to educate family, friends, and employees on the importance of safety. Save lives.
If you or a loved one have been injured or killed due to safety negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. If you live in the Asheville, NC area, contact the personal injury lawyers at Fisher Stark, P.A. for a free consultation.