Deaths by Sector

At the turn of the last century, we were unable to estimate the number of fatalities occurring at work, at home, and in public places, and motor-vehicle deaths were just starting to be an emerging safety problem. Today, we have much better data.

This interactive chart provides a historical look at preventable deaths by class: motor vehicle, work, home, and public non-motor vehicle.

From 1948 to 2004 motor-vehicle crashes were the leading cause of preventable death. Starting in 2005, preventable deaths in the home became most prevalent. The increase in home deaths is driven by an increase in older adult falls and poisonings, which are largely associated with the prescription opioid epidemic and heroin overdose deaths. In 2019, the most recent data year, motor-vehicle experienced a slight decrease in deaths, while home deaths increased substantially.

Preventable injury-related deaths in the public space, excluding motor vehicles, rose steadily during the 1960s, and peaked in 1972 before falling throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Beginning in the early 1990s through the present day, they have been steadily increasing. Similar to home deaths, public deaths increased substantially in 2019.

Work injuries fell dramatically after 1948 through 1992. In the last 10 years work deaths have increased 17%, while the population death rate has increased over 7%.

The break in the lines at 1948 shows the estimated effect of changes in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD). The break in the lines at 1992 resulted from the adoption of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) for work-related deaths. Another change in the ICD in 1999 also affects the trends.

  • Chart
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