Introduction

Between 1912 and 2020, public preventable injury-related death rates declined 57%, from 30 to 13 per 100,000 population (after adjusting for the 1948 change in classification). Unintentional deaths in public places exclude deaths and injuries involving motor vehicles and people at work or at home.

In 1912, an estimated 28,000 to 30,000 people died from public injuries. In 2020, with triple the population and travel and recreational activity greatly increased, 42,800 people died from public unintentional injuries, and 15 million people suffered injuries serious enough to consult a medical professional.

Preventable Injuries and Injury-Related Deaths
in Public Places, 2020

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Deaths

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Death rate per 100,000 population

In 2020, the number of public preventable injury-related deaths was up 13.5% from the 2019 total of 37,700. The 2020 death rate per 100,000 population increased 13.0%, from 11.5 in 2019 to 13.0.

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With an estimated 15 million medically consulted preventable injuries occurring in public places and a population of more than 329 million people, on average about 1 person in 22 experienced such an injury in 2020.

The two leading causes of preventable injury-related deaths in public places are poisoning and falls, accounting for about 17,100 and 13,200, respectively. These two causes alone account for 71% of public deaths. The next two leading causes of death are drowning and choking, each accounting for 7% or fewer of public deaths. No other cause accounted for more than 1% of public deaths.

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Source: National Safety Council (NSC) estimates based on data from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) and state vital statistics departments.

See data details