Standardized (or age-adjusted) rates take into account shifts in the population age distribution over time. The age-adjusted death rate for preventable injuries decreased 36% from 1903 to 2021 – from 99.4 to 63.3 deaths per 100,000 people. The adjusted rates shown in the charts are standardized to the year 2000 U.S. population.
Line breaks in the charts signify data breaks or changes. The first break, at 1948, shows the estimated effect of changes in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD). The data break 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. See the Technical Appendix for comparability.
The table shows the change in the age distribution of the population since 1910.
The age-adjusted death rate for all preventable injuries fluctuated significantly from 1910 to 1940. After 1940, there were some setbacks, including a spike in the early 1960s, but the overall trend through the early 1990s was positive. However, since 1992, the overall age-adjusted death rate has been steadily rising. Magnifying this upward trend, in 2020 the preventable injury death rate increased 17% from 2019. This increase was driven by the indirect impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a 9% increase in motor vehicle and a 16% increase in poisoning death rates. This upward trend has continued with another 11% increase in 2020.
Since they became available in the late 1920s, work sector age-adjusted rates for preventable injury-related deaths declined steadily for decades. Starting in 2010, rates have been stable. Home and public sector rates also fell from the 1920s through the 1980s; but since 1992, both have increased.
The age-adjusted motor-vehicle death rate climbed steadily from 1910 to the late 1930s as the automobile became more widely used. A sharp drop occurred during World War II and a sharp rise occurred in the 1960s, with death rates reflecting economic cycles and a long-term downward trend since that time. It is unclear if the steep increases experienced in 2020 and 2021 is transitory or marks the end of the downward trend.
United States population, selected years
|Year||All ages||Younger than 15||15-24||25-44||45-64||65 and older|
|Number (in thousands)|
(a) Includes 169,000 people with age unknown.
(b) This is the population used for standardization (age adjustment) and differs slightly from the actual 2000 population,
which totaled 275,306,000.
Source: For 1910: U.S. Census Bureau. (1960). Historical Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to 1957. Series
A 71-85. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. For 2000: Anderson, R.N., & Rosenberg, H.M. (1998). Age standardization
of death rates: Implementation of the year 2000 standard. National Vital Statistics Reports, Issue 47, No. 3 p. 13. For
2013: U.S. Census Bureau.
At the turn of the last century, falls were the leading cause of preventable-injury-related death, while motor vehicle and poisoning deaths were only minor concerns. Today, although falls continue to be a major concern, poisoning and motor-vehicle incidents have become the two leading causes of preventable injury-related death.
- Age-adjusted death rates by sector, United States, 1910-2021
- Age-adjusted death rates by leading cause of preventable injury, United States, 1910-2021
- Data Table
- Data Table
Source: National Center for Health Statistics and National Safety Council. See Technical Appendix for comparability.