It’s National Public Health Week, and this year’s theme is “Safety is No Accident: Live Injury Free.” The American Public Health Association notes that in the US each year, nearly 150,000 people die from injuries, and almost 30 million people visit emergency rooms for injuries. They offer safety tips for home, work, play, transportation, and communities.

CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control provides detailed information on what kinds of injuries kill people of different age groups. Here are a few statistics (2007):

  • Unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death for those ages 1-44 (after that, cancer and heart disease are the top killers).
  • For those ages 15-24, homicide is the second leading cause of death, and suicide the third.
  • For those ages 25-34, suicide is the second leading cause of death and homicide the third.

From a 2007 CDC chartbook, here’s more on the mechanisms of fatal injury deaths:

  • Motor vehicle traffic accidents are the leading cause of injury death in the US.
  • Motor vehicle traffic fatalities were the leading mechanism of injury death for people in the 3-33 and 54-72 age ranges.
  • Poisonings (including drug overdoses) were the leading mechanism of injury death for people ages 34-53.
  • Falls were the leading mechanism of injury death for those above age 72.

The traffic-related death rate has dropped over the past 40 years, thanks to a combination of legislation, regulation, enforcement and behavior-change programs. The rate has leveled off in recent years, though, and since the numbers for years after 2007 aren’t factored into these calculations, I wonder if the traffic-related death rate might be on its way back up again due to a greater use of cell phones by drivers. In any case, I’ll note once again that public transportation can be a great option for people who might otherwise be driving with less than full attention and skill — those who are drowsy after long shifts at work, are slowed by age or medication, want to have a few beers, or would rather spend their commutes focused on their iPhones. Many communities don’t offer good public transportation options right now, but should consider adding them for safety as well as other reasons.

But in the more immediate future, it’s National Public Health Week, so take a few minutes to think about how you can reduce the risk of injuries for yourself, your family, and your community.