According to a new report on preventable deaths from the National Safety Council, opioid overdose is the leading cause of death in the U.S. This is for the first time on US record, the dying record from opioid overdose is greater than death from road crashes.
In 2017, the council’s analysis suggests that Americans now have a 1 in 96 chance of dying from an opioid overdose. Moreover, the probability of dying from vehicle accident is 1 in 103.
The council reported, “The nation’s opioid crisis is fueling the Council’s grim probabilities, and that crisis is worsening with an influx of illicit fentanyl.”
The council has recommended tackling the epidemic by increasing pain management training for opioid prescribers, making the potentially-lifesaving drug naloxone more widely available and expanding access to addiction treatment.
Ken Kolosh, manager of statistics at the National Safety Council said to NPR, “It is impacting our workforce, it is impacting our fathers and mothers who are still raising their children. Those accidental deaths usually affect people in the “core of their life,” with greater financial and emotional ramifications than deaths of those in their later years.”
“Vehicle crashes remain a leading danger as well. Half of the people who died in crashes they analyzed were not wearing seatbelts. Meanwhile, the frequency of pedestrian deaths has increased, led by a jump in fatalities in urban areas.”
According to the Governors Highway, “Pedestrian deaths have been at a 25-year high.”
Kolosh said, “Historically, roadways have been designed to make it as efficient as possible for the vehicle noting that bicyclists and pedestrians have been shortchanged. We now have to do a far better job of building our infrastructure to accommodate all road users.”
Kolosh said he hopes the council’s analysis will allay unfounded fears, and remind people of more common dangers.
“As human beings, we’re terrible at assessing our own risk,” Kolosh said. “We typically focus on the unusual or scary events … and assume that those are the riskiest.”