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October 27, 1989

Accidents Claim 96 000 Lives, but Rate Declining for Some Types

JAMA. 1989;262(16):2195. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03430160013002

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ACCIDENTS, the fourth leading cause of death among persons of all ages in this country and the leading cause of death for Americans between the ages of 1 and 37 years, claimed the lives of an estimated 96 000 persons in the United States during the past year, the National Safety Council, Chicago, Ill, says—an average of 11 accidental deaths and approximately 1000 disabling injuries every hour.

Despite hazards at home and on the job, however, during the past decade there has been a decline in the total number of accidental deaths across many classes.

A 1985 report released by the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine, both in Washington, DC, states that "the tendency to attribute injury to 'human error' has nourished the hope that they can best be prevented through voluntary behavior change." Many organizations now promote education as the most effective means of preventing accidents.