Odds of Dying

For the first time on record, your odds of dying from an accidental opioid overdose are greater than dying in a motor-vehicle crash

 

Fear is natural and healthy. It can help us respond to danger more quickly or avoid a dangerous situation altogether. It can also cause us to worry about the wrong things, especially when it comes to estimating our level of risk.

If we overestimate our risk in one area, it can lead to anxiety and interfere with carrying out our normal daily routine. Ironically, it also leads us to underestimate real risks that can injure or kill us.

It can be difficult to accurately assess the biggest risks we face. Plane crashes, being struck by lightning, or being attacked by a dog are common fears, but what about falls, the danger inside of a bottle of pills, or your drive to work?

Knowing the odds is the first step in beating them.

Lifetime odds of death for selected causes, United States, 2017
Cause of Death Odds of Dying
Heart Disease 1 in 6
Cancer 1 in 7
Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease 1 in 27
Suicide 1 in 88
Opioid overdose 1 in 96
Motor Vehicle Crash 1 in 103
Fall 1 in 114
Gun Assault 1 in 285
Pedestrian Incident 1 in 556
Motorcyclist 1 in 858
Drowning 1 in 1,117
Fire or Smoke 1 in 1,474
Choking on Food 1 in 2,696
Bicyclist 1 in 4,047
Accidental Gun Discharge 1 in 8,527
Sunstroke 1 in 8,912
Electrocution, Radiation, Extreme Temperatures and Pressure 1 in 15,638
Sharp objects 1 in 28,000
Cataclysmic Storm 1 in 31,394
Hot surfaces and substances 1 in 46,045
Hornet, wasp and bee stings 1 in 46,562
Dog attack 1 in 115,111
Passenger on an airplane 1 in 188,364
Lightning 1 in 218,106
Railway passenger 1 in 243,765

Source: National Safety Council estimates based on data from National Center for Health Statistics—Mortality Data for 2017, as compiled from data provided by the 57 vital statistics jurisdictions through the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program.  Population and life expectancy data are from the U.S. Census Bureau. Deaths are classified on the basis of the 10th revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10). Numbers following titles refer to External Cause of Morbidity and Mortality classifications in ICD-10.

See data details