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“Unintentional injury” is the nation’s leading cause of death

Conventional wisdom says that making better eating choices, exercising and maintaining a positive attitude are simple ways individuals can keep their bodies in working order. While this may keep a person healthy, it is not the biggest danger adults and young adults are facing.

It has been publicized for years that ailments like heart disease, diabetes and illnesses are the leading causes of death in The United States. While these are certainly national concerns, new data shows that avoidable illness is no longer the greatest danger in the nation; unintentional injury is.

Dangerous accidents sweep the country

What many reports have simply referred to as “accidents” have officially become the nation’s leading cause of death according to a recent report from CNN. CNN stated that data recently released by the Center for Disease Control has put “unintentional injury” as the leading killer of people ages 1 to 44.

The latest data shows that just under 62,000 people died in 2016 from unintentional injury – more than twice the number of people who passed away from heart disease and cancer combined.

Unintentional injury is a somewhat vague description. This umbrella term includes most things which may be considered accidents, including:

  • Poisonings
  • Falls
  • Burns
  • Drownings
  • Motor vehicle accidents

Motor vehicle accidents is an entry that should get most people’s attention. The CDC reported that over 32,000 people are killed each year while driving and over 2 million more are injured in accidents.

Distracted driving is still a threat

CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta said that texting and driving is one of the biggest dangers for this age group. "There's been plenty of evidence to show how much you can divert your attention just by looking at your phone for a split second, and how long you can actually travel during that time."

Dr. Gupta is right in this – the average amount of time a person spends looking at their phone while sending or receiving a text is around 5 seconds. Traveling as 55 miles per hour, a motorist will have driven the length of a football field in the 5 seconds they spend looking at a text.

New Hampshire already bans the use of all hand-held devices for drivers, and even bans the use of hands-free devices for drivers under 18 years old. States that have enforced these bans have reported a noticeable drop in distracted driving accidents, putting us on track to bring unnecessary accidents and deaths down even further going forward.

Distracted driving is a danger, but the other accidents listed above should not be taken lightly either. Always stay focused on your task at hand, whether it be driving, cooking or other potentially hazardous activity.

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